Consumer behavior and needs have become integral in the marketing and development of mobile phones and applications. This has led marketers and manufacturers to do profound research on consumer needs and interests when buying cell phones and their applications.
Lately, a cell phone bubble is being experienced. Smart applications are being developed and incorporated into existing smartphones to improve and increase smart features. However, what prompts the consumer to yearn for smartphones is yet to be comprehensively researched.
The need for information explaining the consumer and cell phone complex is urgent. The market for cell phones seems to be increasing rather than stabilizing creating room for diversification and integration of applications with an aim of developing a unique product. This can be well understood from the context of consumer needs and behavior.
Empirical research on mobile telephony markets and consumer trends is indicative of a shift in technology platforms and a rapid migration from traditional communication to neo technology. This has led to the redefining of mobile phones, their functions, and their value. The process of redefining mobile phones has brought about their revolution from mere telephones to banking facilities, office mates, and entertainment resources.
Cell phones are a comprehensive new communication technology today. The use of cell phones has rapidly increased in recent years and has become a necessity in our lives. Today, just about every family member owns a cell phone. People use them for a variety of purposes including keeping in touch with friends and family members, helping them feel safe, for financial benefits, like mobile banking, managing time efficiently, and a lot more. Generally, phones have made life much easier.
The goal of this paper is to explore the decision-making processes and actions taken by a student when buying and using a cell phone.
An interview with a cellphone buyer who is a business school student.
His age is advanced hence his answers are accurate and quite professionally answered.
What is your view on the mobile telephony services industry?
It is rapidly growing and every day we are getting something new introduced. It could be a new application, a new tariff, or an offer. My take is, this industry has changed lives, and its turning to be a core business process, vital enough to develop economies.
You sound knowledgeable about issues of business and economy, what kind of a phone do you own?
I do not own a smartphone, but it is a phone with very attractive features. I can chat online, I can get instant email, open office documents, and I have one hour of video. The phone provides me with what I refer to as efficiency. It provides me with entertainment, I am in touch with family and friends, I have access to banking services and a lot more nice stuff here.
So you are suggesting, when you were buying your phone, you had some specific interests at heart. What am asking is, what is that you wanted on a phone?
Efficiency in communication, to identify with the society, access some services like mobile banking, instant chats and emails and so forth, and also entertainment.
Cell phones are almost like a necessity throughout modern society. Why do you think you need a phone?
The ability to keep in touch with family is one of the many reasons why I own it. Two am able to communicate with associates, friends and I can access email anywhere anytime.
With the advanced cell phone technology today, we are capable of not only making and receiving phone calls or text messages but also taking pictures. With wireless applications, the ability to browse the internet has become easy. In fact, with smartphones, we have instant access to the Internet (Kingston).
Do you agree with the notion that the cell phone is the ideal strategy to stay connected with family or friends? Do you feel that it provides you with a sense of security?
My view is that In the event of an emergency, having a cell phone allows one to access many basic things. In fact, one can call for help in case of an accident and help save lives in case of an emergency (Melchior). The need for a cell phone has gone beyond the necessary context to a compulsory level. Owning a cell phone is like being dressed. Mobile banking has prompted a new revolution of smart applications and software has to support the infrastructure of such services (Kingston).
What features do you think impress you most in a cell phone?
The introduction of mobile phone office features including Microsoft Word, PDF, cell phone instant messengering, instant email, and other essential office tools as well as information management systems have made cell phones very important. More executives are buying blackberries and smartphones to keep them in touch with their offices, teams, and organizations. In fact, management headaches have been reduced to paltry through cell phones (Melchior). This is the corporate view on the need for cell phones.
(The context of the need to have a cell phone is seen from various perspectives including the corporate scenario to social scenarios. Both help identifies emerging markets and consumer needs in cell phones and the applications that come with the cell phone (Melchior)).
Cell phone manufacturers have produced a wide range of cell phones what do you think about such a mix of varieties?
There are basic ones that are cheap and the high-end ones that have very sophisticated features that are priced like a laptop computer. With the rapid growth in cell phone features, people upgrade their phones faster than they actually use them and this translates to a growing market for secondhand phones (Kingston).
What do you think is the Importance of owning a cell phone?
There are many benefits to owning a cell phone. The cell phone is best known for communication purposes, people now use it for almost everything – like a watch, a diary, an alarm, for entertainment among other things.
What influenced you to purchase a cell phone?
Everyone had a phone in school; my mother had to call me through my roommate’s phone. I had a job and every time, I was unable to manage time well since I was unable to communicate with my immediate boss promptly. The phone provided me with a permanent solution.
Cell phones today are status symbols. They define one’s class (Polegato et al, 2005). However, cell phones today have become a basic need and therefore people are willing to spend large sums of money to acquire this product Richarme (2004).
What actually prompts buying a smartphone or a blackberry phone?
The features and the emotions it will elicit when my friends see it. Besides, I will be able to communicate efficiently.
Why do you think your friends will be impressed by your new phone?
It is obvious, it has features, and they will want to see them. Am very sure, they will have no choice but to love and adore it.
Do you think your choice mobile phone will satisfy you comprehensively or you will think of another handset in the near future?
The dynamic innovations in the sector will obviously make me think of going for something smart than what I own right now.
Do you think the phone you want to buy will provide value for your money?
At an individual level, yes, however, I know out there, they are getting value for money but here, the prices are too high. The dealers want to make a profit and leave us fleeced.
How much would you invest in a phone?
If am earning good money I wont mind spending up to $500 or more but not beyond $1000. Its not a worthy investment.
What is you next phone and why?
I hope that a smart Nokia phone or an iphone. Nokia is very reputable and trendy. An I phone remains the most expensive communication gadget, owning it would be very satisfying.
Purchasing a product involves the ability of the product to satisfy rational needs as well as the need for fun and exploration. Richarme (2004) points out that there is a much greater amount of decision-making effort applied to the purchase of a new cell phone. Looking at the level of involvement, one identifies what the society requires and Is already indulging in and subsequently, seeks to identify and indulge more appropriately.
Life and its quality may be a derivate of the direct benefits brought about directly by a product, in this case, the mobile phone (Richarme). These benefits may also be because of the perception by peers about that particular product.
This student chose to buy and use a cell phone because of the convenience of being able to communicate from anywhere and the security of being able to reach family areas (Richarme).
She stated that of all the technology available today, her cell phone is something she cannot do without and was not comfortable even thinking about switching it off for a day.
When asked specifically how cell phones made her feel, she stated that the most important thing was being able to connect with friends and family; also the ability to manage the use of her phone in terms of the amount of money and time spent on it made her feel somewhat responsible. She felt that she would gain her peers’ respect if she acquired the latest phone and enjoyed the aspect of being trendy.
In terms of the mobile phone features she has and uses, accessing face book was the most important. She felt that it helped her strengthen her relationship with her friends. Using her phone to take pictures and videos also came in handy as well as listening to the radio is also an important feature that she uses. She explained that downloading music and videos is an expensive exercise so she relies on other medium to listen and watch these.
Individuals Decision Making
Decision-making is a mental and social processes. This process that precede and follows an individual’s actions and objectives. When making a decision to purchase a product, a consumer will do it automatically or out of habit. However, there are also those decisions that require some thought and effort because of the risk involved like buying a cell phone (Richarme).
The buying process starts when one identifies his needs and feels obliged to resolve them. This is referred to as ‘need recognition.’ At this stage, the buyer recognizes a problem or need; in this case, she responded to marketing stimulus when she saw a television advertisement of a latest cell phone, which gave her a glimpse of what is needed to “live the good life.” (Melchior, Richarme)
She then decided she needed to upgrade her phone. Once she recognized that she needed a new cell phone, she began to search on what her next phone would be (Melchior). However, as a student, she has virtually no income and cannot afford a cell phone, but she has been able to influence parents, siblings, and relatives to contribute to her acquiring this much-desired item (Richarme).
To facilitate this search, research suggests that it may range from a simple scanning of memory, to determine what has been done to resolve the problem in the past, to undertaking extensive fieldwork. Hannah has been consulting a variety of sources to amass as much information as possible on the cell phone she wants to buy (Melchior). It is interesting to note that in many cases, unlike Hannah, people engage in surprisingly little search even in high involvement decisions such as buying a cell phone, which involves high expenditure and personal risk. Instead, they rely upon various mental shortcuts, such as brand names or price, or they may simply imitate others. (Tutor2u, 2010)
Cell phones provide the user with a range of options depending on its applications, model, and ability to integrate various applications. (Melchior). However, more than this, there is also the life of the cell phone to consider. Cell phone life is measured in several ways such as stand by time and talk time. Each phone has a has to recharge and each has it own battery life, for example, Nokia 95-8GB cannot go for 8hours before you recharge it (Richarme). Another important factor to consider is which cell phone battery lasts the longest and is most reliable (Richarme).
One of the most common beliefs is that price is positively related to quality; well-known brand names or a product’s country of origin as signals of product quality. When a brand is consistently purchased over time, this pattern may be due to true brand loyalty or simply because it is the easiest thing to do (Richarme). To reduce the perceived risk in the purchasing a cell phone, consumers might use brand loyalty as a way of minimizing uncertainty of purchase (Richarme).
Apart from the commercial sources of advertisements, family members and friends who own Blackberry and other high-end phone influenced her decision (Richarme). In the evaluation-of-alternatives stage, the product alternatives that are considered comprise the individual’s evoked set (Richarme). Research shows that customer’s value personal sources more than commercial sources. This is explained as the influence of “word of mouth” (Richarme).
Decision-making is not always rational and can be influenced by the way a problem is posed (called framing), and by whether it is put in terms of gains or losses (Richarme). The consumer eventually makes a product choice from among alternatives by considering the good and bad points more carefully to arrive at the overall best choice (Polegato, et al, 2005).
Consumers are concerned about quality and efficiency of a product after they purchase it (Richarme). This is referred to as “cognitive dissonance.” It happens when a consumer feels that the alternative product could have made the ideal choice in comparison with the one he bought though this consumer will not purchase this alternative product so soon(Richarme). This consumer is likely to switch brands next time he makes a purchase (Richarme).
Here marketing becomes a factor of influence. How well the seller poses the product is how easily he makes a sale. Marketing paradigms have explained a lot about the customer and how a consumer is influenced through advertising. Such points are considered when advertising and selling mobile telephones today (Richarme).
A consumer’s decision to adopt a new product depends on his or her personal characteristics as well as on characteristics of the innovation itself (Kingston). Products such as cell phones stand a better chance of being adopted because they demand relatively little change in behavior from users are easy to understand and provide a relative advantage compared to existing products (Kingston).
An individual’s subjective belief about potentially negative consequences from his/her decision drives the motive when purchasing a product such as a cell phone. On the other hand, consumers might use brand loyalty as a way of minimizing uncertainty of purchase (Kingston).
There are different reasons why people would want to have a cell phone. It is no longer a luxury item but a handy tool of the 21st century. The motivation behind purchasing a cell phone is linked to the value it promotes: in this case, it facilitates a means to stay connected to the social world, provides personal entertainment, but also reflects personal style.
Price and features are considered important motives that affect the decision to purchase a cell phone especially for people who have low or no income. Brand names are also an important influence in this decision.
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Mwoha, Hannah. Personal interview.
Polegato, Rosemary, Michael R. Solomon and Judith L. Zaichkowsky, Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being, Third Canadian Edition, 3/E Pearson Education Canada, 2005
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