US Holiday Promotions Mild, but Sales Appear Strong For Incumbents

Counterpoint Research and Wave7 Research have conducted joint research surveys of the US carriers and national retailers during the Black Friday weekend and the month of December.

  • Store traffic and device sales have been strong despite more rational promotions relative to 2016.
  • Most holiday 2017 promotions have either been BOGO offers that require a new line of service or have been trade-in offers that require a customer to provide a high-end smartphone, so carrier promotions have been less than meets the eye.
  • Concerning the iPhone X, the combination of strong demand and weak supply minimized the need by carriers to provide deals for iPhone X purchases.
  • Despite this, Q4 postpaid device sales appear strong despite rumored global iPhone X weakness.

Other findings:

  • In the opening weeks of 8 and 8 Plus sales, Apple sales were down YoY vs. 7 and 7 Plus sales. But, since the launch of the X, Apple share has grown YoY.
  • iPhone X saw shipping dates of 1-3 weeks during Black Friday and many dealers did not yet have stock. Two weeks into December, supply for nearly all iPhone X SKUs caught up with demand – just in time for the final two weeks before Christmas.
  • Corporate owned retail sales surveys showed X volumes selling close to both 8 and 8 Plus variants. The X could be getting a higher percentage of online and Apple store sales.
  • Apple memory configuration has shifted.  Opening day of the 8 / 8 Plus launch, the 256GB appeared slightly stronger than 64GB.  But, sales have been shifting with the 64GB variant outselling the 256GB by 2.5 : 1 margin.
  • Samsung Note 8 had a strong showing from mid-November to mid-December with a slight lead over Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus sales. 24 of 51 carrier reps stated the Note 8 was the top-selling Galaxy seller.  J & K series were also solid but are seeing more competition from LG, Moto, and REVVL.
  • Google Pixel 2 sales picked up momentum after a $300 discount was implemented. However, overall sales appear disappointing relative the amount of marketing dollars.  At this point, there is very limited switching from iOS, which was the goal of the Google designed hardware.
  • ZTE Axon M sales are off to a slow start, but store reps hinted more marketing dollars will be coming post-holiday. No sense taking on Apple-Samsung during Q4.
  • T-Mobile branded REVVL and REVVL Plus have been selling well and would have sold more had the REVVL Plus not seen shortages.
  • Carriers are adding more shelf space to connected wearables and smart speakers. More bundling expected into January.
  • Store checks have shown national retailers BestBuy and Costco are seeing stronger mobile device sales YoY. This week it was confirmed by management comments.


For more details:

Jeff Fieldhack