We Investigate Brand Loyalty in India When it Comes to Smartphones


Brand loyalty has been a much written about topic. If you hold a shiny MBA degree you know one of the key aspects of a good brand building exercise is to ensure there is brand loyalty and retainability. Many surveys done in the International market clearly paint the picture that Apple is a brand that enjoys exceedingly high brand loyalty, which makes Apple an aspirational brand. Most would agree that it is down to the fact that Android has several OEMs which use the OS, and since every OEM out there goes about customising Android in their own way, it is extremely difficult to build loyalty among Android users. While Android users have been loyal to Android as an OS, they are likely to try an Android phone from a different manufacturer.

Add on the factors like in the US or even European countries, where these surveys are generally held, there is a strong culture of carrier locked phones forcing people to stick to their brands longer than they would like, the picture is not clear. So, in order to get our frames right and to study how things look in the open Indian market, we decided to ask the audience of Pricebaba about brand loyalty. How we went about this was that we asked the visitors on Pricebaba, which smartphone brand are they currently using and which brand were they using previously. Since about 80% of the audience at Pricebaba is Indian, this gave us a very good indication of what exactly does the map look like when it comes to brand loyalty in India.

To give you the sample size of the audience, about 4,000 people participated in the survey, out of which more than 1586 gave us the names of the previous and current brands. These are the people who have been considered for the results. We assume, the rest of the 2500 users were either first-time smartphone users or just simply could not recall the brand that they were using, so have been kept away. Only for calculating the overall, brand recall, have we used the exact sample size of people who participated, because we believe that if you do not recall the brand, you were using, that counts equally towards not having loyalty.

With that information out, here is what we found in our quick test for brand loyalty among Indians:

Loyal users

Only 12.66% of the people we asked were loyal to the brands that they used in India.

This is a number that may surprise you, given the fact that Indian is an open market and usually the deal breaker in picking the phone is much beyond just brand loyalty. There are definitely some brands that have managed to carve out a loyalty despite it being a difficult market and we will acknowledge these brands in the post. How often have you heard your father or even the distant uncle say, that they do not make Nokia phones anymore or they only want a Samsung phone because it works? At the risk of generalising, but Indians do tend to stick on to things that work well, and unless the experience really puts them off, they are likely to continue with the brand and are among some of the most loyal customers. According to our study, 13 people out of 100 are already using the phone from the brand that they used earlier and that is exceptional.

Further, we drilled down to about 14 top brands that are holding high relevance, and interests these were: Asus, BlackBerry, Motorola, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Microsoft, Gionee, Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HTC, Micromax, LG and Sony and they featured about 450 of these loyal users. This constituted good 80% of the total loyal user base. Out of these 450 users, we saw that Samsung as a brand has the highest user loyalty with the company holding a solid 42% of the share. Out of all the loyal users, Samsung has the highest percentage share, followed by Nokia, which still holds 15% of all the loyal users, while in the third place there was a tie between Apple and Micromax, both the brands coming in at 7%.

Nokia users

It was interesting to see that several users on Pricebaba were actually ex-Nokia users, so we set out to find that to which brands did Nokia lose out their users to. It turns out that of all the users who had a Nokia phone, 52% of the users moved to Samsung. The next popular choice was to Micromax, which took away 17% of the ex-Nokia users. Interestingly, Lenovo was the third most popular and  was the home of 10% of ex-Nokia users.

Apple users

We also wanted to drill out how many ex-Apple users chose Samsung as their next smartphone and vice versa. In the case of Apple, it was not a surprise that the disloyal users abandoned them most to go over to Samsung. About 48% of the users that went away, purchased a Samsung smartphone while a sizeable 19% went to HTC.

Samsung users

In the case of Samsung, the story was a little different. Out of the users that decided not to purchase a Samsung phone again, 25% of them decided to pick a Micromax phone, while 17% users went to Apple. Lenovo and Nokia stood third with 12% of the acquired Samsung users. Clearly, today Apple users are more likely to go to Samsung rather than vice versa, simply because Samsung deals in a lower budget section, where Apple does not exist.

Micromax users

Micromax too lost 41% of the users to Samsung and 13% to Lenovo. HTC, a rather popular Android smartphone manufacturer lost its maximum users who decided to go away to Samsung followed by Apple and Lenovo. Sony lost about 22% of the users to HTC and 19% abandoned them for Apple and Motorola.

Sony users

While obviously these results will not be absolute to the tee accurate, they do give you a very interesting picture:

1) Samsung has a really loyal user base, as it caters to a very large set and budget segment. Apple for all its fantastic products, is very much a brand for the elite, while an average Indian likes a Samsung. Also worth noting that Samsung does give you pretty much everything that Apple phones could, while the reverse is not always true, take the Note series as an example. 

2) Nokia still has a beautiful hold on the market and it looks like if they do make a comeback, quite a few people are actually going to run up and check them out again.

3) A lot of users are still confused between Microsoft and Nokia. There were several entries we got and had to not consider in the loyal segment because the user thought that the Windows Phone they were using was a Nokia phone when it was actually a Microsoft phone.

4) The likes of Sony and HTC have a cult following and a loyal user base. If only they could price their phones better, there is a chance these brands would actually do well.

5) Micromax for all the slack, has a very decent loyal user base as well as is a very realistic option for users to buy, even today. A lot of it is down to perhaps their after sales and easy availability.

While we can safely conclude there is some loyalty out there, it is worth noting that with more brands entering and already being a favorite, the likes of Motorola, Xiaomi and Lenovo especially, the loyalty index would go down even further. Till the next time we decide to come up with such a study for you, make sure that you share the post and show your love to Pricebaba.

Arpit Verma

When not admiring flying metallic birds and the science behind them, Arpit is seen scribbling with his keyboard, voicing an opinion or two about personal technology. He is currently using a Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s Plus as his mobile devices.

One Comment

    • Gopal
    • September 25, 2016

    Thanks for it, i would like to come back with Nokia if Nokia go with Android OS.
    I hope every X Nokia user will come back with Nokia.

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