Business, Technology

Classifying the mobile phone buyers in India (Part 1)

For 2 weeks now, I have been doing my bit about understanding the mobile handset market in India from a ‘qualitative’ perspective. It is expected that very soon 50% of the Indian population will have a mobile phone in their hand. I tried to understand 3 things – What works, what doesn’t – what does the consumer really look at when he goes out to buy a cell phone?

Overall, I have classified the consumer into 5 types – the base of this is Rama Bijapurkar’s 5 pronged classification of Indian consumer class in her book – ‘ We are like that only‘. (She classifies the consumer class into 5 categories – The destitute, the aspirants, the climbers, the consuming class, the rich) . In the mobile phone context, the definitions change a bit, but the concept remains the same.

  • 15cell.600The ultra cost sensitive – For this category, mobile phone is a result of months of savings. Typically, they would buy a mobile phone from a diwali bonus or through savings of around 4-5 months. An example of this category would be household maids working in metros. This category would buy the lowest cost phones available out there,
  • Cost conscious – This class is cost conscious but is willing to experiment. They are most likely to get influenced by peers / family members / children / society with respect to the choices they make while buying the phone.
  • Cost limiters but feature awareness – Typically a consumer, from this class onwards, is looking for an improvement over their earlier phone. This class will have a cost limit, but are aware of what features they use in the cell phone and are willing to buy a mobile phone which gives the best within the cost limits.
  • Feature sensitive – These folks are feature sensitive, for them, things like camera, looks of a mobile phone, size etc matter. An example would be the burgeoning consumer class. They have cost limits, but don’t mind exceeding them if they see utility in a particular product which suits their needs.
  • Cost indifferent , ultra feature sensitive – They do extensive research before buying a mobile phone. They look at websites, magazines, TV ads and most importantly, their peers before deciding what to buy. They also know a mobile phone geek , someone who knows about cell phones – who gives them choices – which become the sample space for these consumers.

(TBC – will continue this post over the weekend)

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