Online channels have taken a lead over offline channels in the smartphone market in India, according to a report by Counterpoint Research.
As per Counterpoint Research’s Market Lens consumer survey, 53 per cent of the country’s smartphone consumers purchased their devices online in 2021, compared to over one-third (47 per cent) last year.
Similar numbers were recorded by Counterpoint’s smartphone shipment data. Further, according to Market Lens, the affordable premium and premium segments became more active in 2021 with 15 per cent of the respondents purchasing phones in the ₹30,000 and above price band, compared to 7 per cent in 2020.
The pandemic has pushed many offline consumers to online platforms owing to restrictions on movement, as per the report.
“Besides, the reverse migration of knowledge workers from big cities to smaller cities and towns also played a key role in popularizing online channels. Along with new buyers, there is a strong stickiness among the buyers who are already using online channels,” Arushi Chawla, Counterpoint Research Analyst said in a blog post.
“Transitioning to a digital platform requires people to come out of a certain comfort zone. But this hesitation took a back seat with online shopping emerging as a safer (sometimes only) alternative to the Covid-19-hit offline market,” Chawal added.
There were more reasons to prefer online over offline even beyond the pandemic. As per the survey respondents, special offers, variety of choices and pricing were the top reasons for them to prefer online channels for smartphone purchase.
“We call this shift to online digitisation because, along with the preference for online channels, people are also relying on YouTubers and influencers to get information for making a smartphone purchase” Chawla said
The survey highlighted a shift from relying on word of mouth and friends/family for smartphone recommendations in 2020 to relying on YouTube technology influencers, online reviews and articles and comparison websites.
The change was catalysed by the Covid-19-triggered social distancing and work-from-home scenarios, as per the report.
Further, in 2020, many respondents from the ₹20,000 and above price segment had planned to lower the budget for their next smartphone.
However, premium and affordable, both segments became more prominent in 2021.
Based on the survey results, the share of smartphone users from the sub-₹30,000 price band declined from 2020 to 2021.
“Due to the work-from-home situation, respondents are saving more than usual. In addition, the smartphone has become an essential part of life with the rise in virtual connectivity. As a result, there is a movement in the market, with a significant portion of smartphone users looking to purchase their next smartphone from a higher price band,” Chawla said.
“In the Indian festive season of 2021, there is high consumer demand in the mid and premium segments. In fact, the aspiration for premium smartphone brands has grown from 2020 to 2021,” Chawla added.
“Even as more respondents are planning for premium and affordable premium segments, there are limited players in the competition. This makes the OEMs with a smaller current market share to be highlighted more,” Chawla further added.
The Market Lens survey was conducted among smartphone users in India for years 2020 and 2021 with respondents being spread across the North, East, West, and South regions.
Samples of 1,023 units for 2020, and 976 for 2021 were collected from across the Indian smartphone users. The Hindu BusinessLine