The mobile telecommunication market has been slowly increasing over the last 5 years and is predicted that it will continue to rise. A large proportion of customers now own more than one mobile phone (e.g. a work and a personal phone) resulting in the market penetration to exceed 100 per cent in many markets around the globe. It was mentioned by Kimiloglu et al, that penetration rate had exceeded 100 percent in more than 30 countries and it has been estimated that the countries where the number of mobile phone subscriptions exceeds the size of the population will continue to grow.
A lot of research has been conducted to identify consumer’s behaviour in the mobile phone market. They have been categorised into different segments; the categorisation of segments differ depending on the journals. The identification of market segmentation enables the mobile operators to alter their products and services in order to reach their target audience.
Kimiloglu et al talked about theoretical based segments that were: Decision-making (The importance levels assigned to various criteria by consumers in the decision-making process for mobile phones), Involvement (Consumers’ involvement orientations in purchasing a mobile phone), Loyalty (Consumers’ tendencies to stay loyal to their current mobile phone brand). They also identify several decisions making clusters of consumers and they are as follows:
• Cluster 1 – pragmatic consumers. This consumer group focuses on functionality and design, safety and duration and practicality and durability as the most important factors in buying a mobile phone.
• Cluster 2 – abstemious consumers. This group attaches a significant level of importance to the functionality and design of the product only.
• Cluster 3 – value-conscious consumers. The most significant issue characterizing this consumer group is the fact that they attach the highest level of importance to price and payment conditions among all four clusters.
• Cluster 4 – charismatic consumers. This cluster attaches a high level of importance to nearly all of the decision- making criteria.
The consumers’ loyalty and involvement depends on which cluster they belong to.
Pirkko et al categorized customer’s behavior into Efficient, Trendy, Skillful, Basic and Social when conducted a survey about the mobile phone customer behavior in Finland. The categorization of consumers’ behavior showed that the adoption of a mobile phone and its usage depends on age and socioeconomic factors.
The UK has one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, both in revenue and in the number of subscribers. In the UK market there is a shift in the behaviour of consumers regarding their attitudes towards their usage of mobile phones. The shift is partly responsible to the introduction of smart phones, which has now overtaken basic mobile phones.(See figure 1 below) Therefore, it can be seen that consumers see their mobile phones more than just a device with which they make calls and receive text.
Figure 1: Mobile phone ownership by platform provider, January 2012
Source: ComScore MobiLens/Mintel Base: 15,000 mobile phone owners aged 13+
This change in attitude affects the price plans of mobile operators when offering contracts: consumers want minutes, text and data. Cisco’s consumer mobile data forecast in the UK suggests that the volume of data is going to dramatically increase in the next few years; from 26.6 Petabyte recorded in 2011 to a forecast of 268.1 petabyte in 2015 as shown below:
Figure 2: Cisco’s consumer mobile data forecast in the UK, 2011-16
Source: Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Forecast, 2011-2016
As consumer use of their mobile phone change their subscriptions demand also change and more consumers see a smartphone