France: A Battleground for Premium Flagship Smartphones

Being a mature smartphone market, the average selling price (ASP) in France is already high. Apple and Samsung so far dominate the market. However, recently the market has seen a flurry of activity by Chinese players like Huawei, OnePlus, and Oppo. These brands are raising the overall value of the French smartphone market even higher. The fact that Huawei chose to launch its flagship P30, and earlier Ascend P7 and P20 series in France underlines the commitment of Chinese brands to this market. Similarly, OnePlus is also planning to open a brick and mortar store in Paris. In light of recent activities, we conducted a Consumer Lens study to understand the current and future preference of French smartphone consumers.

In the results from Counterpoint’s Consumer Lens study, close to half of the respondents purchased a smartphone priced higher than €500 (US$600) in the past. This trend is likely to continue as the study results revealed that one in three consumers have the intention of spending €675 and above (US$800 and above) for their next smartphone. Among respondents who bought Apple, perhaps unsurprisingly, almost 70% spent more than €500 (US$600). Samsung’s larger portfolio meant that the spending pattern among its users was more evenly spread across price bands.

Exhibit 1- Spending Intention by Present Brand Users in France

Source: Counterpoint Consumer Lens

Apple’s new ultra-premium pricing has pushed many buyers with a lower budget (like students) towards preowned/used smartphones. One in three respondents purchased their last smartphone with a full upfront payment, while one in every four respondents have used some kind of monthly installment plan. The most commonly used monthly installment plans in France are operator plans, upgrade plans, and the good old credit card. A majority of the respondents who bought smartphones on a monthly installment plan spent €25 or more each month.

Apple and Samsung both are neck and neck when it comes to top brand preference for the next purchase. A total of 90% of the current brand users expressed an intention to stick to the same brand for their next purchase.

French consumers continue their love affair with Samsung. The Korean brand has always done well in the best-selling smartphone list.  Interestingly, almost half of the current Apple users are also considering Samsung as one of the top three brands for their next purchase. In contrast, only 29% of current Samsung users are considering a switch to Apple. However, the final purchase decision will vary by available choices of models, sales offers, and other market dynamics during the time of purchase.