Brand consciousness rather than price is driving smartphone purchases in the UAE.
More than 60 per cent of respondents who participated in a survey highlighted brand as their main consideration for buying a smartphone, 56 per cent looked at features, while 45 per cent said their choices were influenced by price.
“Other companies have had to go very heavy on price points to stay in the market,” said Sean Connor, the general manager at Plug Ins, which carried out the survey.
The average UAE resident spends Dh3,000 on consumer electronics per year, with smartphones making up the majority of purchases. Consumers are also replacing smartphones faster than any other electronic item, with more than 70 per cent of respondents saying they would buy one within the next six months.
More than 1,000 participants took part in the survey, which was conducted both online and in-store. More than 70 per cent of participants were not Plug Ins customers. “We need to make sense of what consumers are saying and we are the first retailer to conduct such a survey,” said Mr Connor.
“The industry lacks customer-rich trends and inspired us to create and conduct a survey that would record the pulse of consumer needs and purchasing habits in the country.”
Other habits highlighted in the survey show that consumerisation of IT has taken hold among UAE consumers. Respondents were less concerned about having a separate work and home phone and prefer to be able to use their devices for many different functions and uses.
“The industry is dominated by screen technology, the [concept of] four screens is something that consumers are saying is important in their buying decisions. Consumers are becoming largely platform-agnostic, decisions are mainly driven by brands.”
More than 80 per cent of respondents said that a brand would be the main driver in buying a laptop or tablet, 70 per cent were planning to spend on a tablet and 65 per cent intended to purchase a laptop.
Laptops and tablets are used primarily for browsing the internet, followed by work and educational purposes.
In the TV segment, more than 80 per cent of respondents currently have a television set below 42 inches in size. Only 4 per cent have a screen size above 50 inches, but this is expected to increase to 20 per cent over the next year as consumers look to upgrade sets.
The way consumers shop in the UAE is slowly beginning to change as well. The majority are using digital media and the internet to research a product, which they then buy in a store.
“A big proportion are using digital media to research to reinforce what they think, but also to research product details and reviews. In-store purchasing is still critical in terms of shopping, but research is now online rather than traditional print media,” said Mr Connor.
The most surprising trend, he said, was in camcorder purchases.
“We’ve seen a bit of a decline in camcorder sales because of smartphones and we expected the camcorder not to feature heavily in the future, but for 15 per cent saying they would purchase one was a surprise,” he said.
Plug Ins is planning to conduct the survey twice a year.