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Smartphone Shopping Is A Two-Stop Journey For Consumers

A consumer’s mobile device purchase journey rarely ends at the carrier store.

While consumers purchase mobile phones at carrier stores more than anywhere else, they are buying their accessories elsewhere — mostly online — according to a recent study from ABI Research.

Carrier stores carry a limited selection of accessories, noted ABI research director David McQueen. “As such, fewer consumers choose to purchase mobile accessories from mobile operators. Accessory purchases within the online store segment are increasing due to rising Internet penetration rates and the ease of access to a wide variety of products.”

Two accessory categories in particular experience high aftermarket demand: charging devices and protective cases. According to ABI, 81 percent of its survey respondents still owned a charger from the original purchase, but 49 percent said they planned to buy additional chargers. Just 15 percent received a protective case when they purchased their mobile phone, and 62 percent went on to purchase an aftermarket case.

Although mobile phone manufacturers are becoming more engaged in the design and sale of aftermarket accessories, ABI said, the market still holds room for other players to enter the market.

“The market is highly fragmented, making it relatively easy for an accessory manufacturer to hone in on a specific segment, such as Zagg’s focus on screen protection or Otterbox’s specialization in protection cases,” said McQueen. “To stay in the game, accessory manufacturers need to be smart in anticipating product launches and disruptions to the market, adapting their products accordingly so that they neither become obsolete or late to market. Branding strategies are also important — Zagg uses InvisibleShield for screen protectors, iFrogz for audio, and its own branding for keyboards and select cases.”

Another market opportunity: high-end device protection. “If users have bought an expensive smartphone, they’re more likely to pay a premium for a protection product on the understanding that it will be of good quality, which is where companies can find their niche,” McQueen told TWICE. “This can then create a wide price differential in a segment, from low-cost white label to high-price, aspirational-branded products, which can provide other market opportunities.

McQueen cited the headphones market as an example in which this scenario has occurred.

Some accessories are better placed than others to create this opportunity, McQueen said, citing battery packs — which carry a narrower price range and lack of differentiation in the product — as an example. These may be more aligned with strength of brand rather than price, he said. For example, “a Samsung-branded spare battery for a Samsung smartphone may be slightly more expensive than a white label, but it is assumed will be of better quality.”