Samsung is the Most Preferred Brand for Next Purchase in the UK

The UK is a mature smartphone market driven by operator channels. Apple and Samsung dominate the best-selling list. Competition is intensifying with the likes of Huawei and Google coming out with very capable models in the premium segment. However, the results of Counterpoint’s Consumer Lens Study suggest that the rivalry between Apple and Samsung is expected to continue in 2019 and beyond.

Our study was conducted to understand factors influencing consumers buying smartphones in the UK. The study also examines consumer preferences in terms of brands, price bands, features, and more. We find that both Apple and Samsung have similar brand loyalty. As nine out of ten users of Apple and Samsung indicated that their next device will be from the same brand. Both brands also have their own set of fans in terms of age groups. For example, salaried respondents above the age of 35 showed a preference for Samsung. On the other hand, Apple is most popular among students and respondents in the 16-24 age group. Huawei is a distant third in both categories even though the P20 and the Mate 20 series, with their vibrant product design and camera features, were able to capture some interest among the youth.

However, looking at the overall market, Samsung is the clear leader in terms of being the preferred choice brand for the next purchase. Our study reveals that the future spending intention of consumers is one of the key reasons behind Samsung’s popularity. Nearly 40% of our survey’s respondents said they want to spend between US$100-US$300 for their next smartphone. Samsung’s strong portfolio in this mid-tier price band has helped it capture the mind share of British consumers.

Top Brands Considered for Next Smartphone Purchase in the UK

Source: Counterpoint Consumer Lens

Maintaining its lead will be difficult for Samsung. Rapid democratization of new technology has helped reduce the cost of a feature-packed smartphone. Mid-tier phones now look almost as good as premium devices and are even packed with high-end features. The likes of Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, and others focusing on European expansion will start to challenge Samsung soon.

Samsung will also need to buck up its game if it wants to become the leader in the ultra-premium segment (>US$800). In this segment, Apple takes the crown for the most preferred brand for future purchase. Apple’s premium brand perception still intact with its offerings.  However, this has led to many old iPhone users holding onto their phones for a longer duration.

While Samsung has a healthy lead in terms of being the most preferred brand for future purchases, the Korean brand cannot rest on its laurels. Devices in the Android ecosystem are seeing high levels of innovation by brands like Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, and others. The year 2019 will be known for innovation like punch-hole display, lossless zoom, foldable smartphone, and 5G devices rollout.

Getting users to switch from iOS to Android and vice-versa has had a limited scope so far in mature smartphone markets like the UK. Therefore, sales are mostly dependent on the upgrade cycle. More than half of the respondents to our survey bought their smartphones in the last one year and of these, one in three are planning to replace their device in the next one year. We believe, the UK smartphone market will be flat in 2019 and is likely to grow at a steady pace from 2020 with the increase of 5G penetration and introduction of new use cases.