iPhone 8 Purchase Intent could only be hindered by Price

By this time next week, we will know all there is to know about the new iPhone model, including whether it will be called the iPhone 8. In a collaboration with SurveyMonkey, we, at Creative Strategies, set out to measure the level of interest in the new iPhone as well as the purchase intent. Through SurveyMonkey Audience we reached out to 1000 US consumers between the age of 18 and 65 and asked a few questions about their attitude to smartphone purchase as well as what they expect from Apple in the new iPhone release.

A Healthy Base

Before we asked about iPhone 8, we covered the basis to see what the opportunity in the market was for Apple. Sixty percent of the current Apple base has had their iPhone for at least one year or longer, 23% had their current iPhone between twelve and seven months and 17% for six months or less. This mix makes for a pretty substantial opportunity for Apple, but will it be the super-cycle some are expecting? Well, much of it depends on the upgrade habits of this base. The fact that 60% of current iPhone users have had their phone for over a year does not necessarily translate into a new purchase.

The good news for Apple is that 21% of current iPhone owners are planning to upgrade within the next six months and another 17% within the next year. When only looking at consumers who indicated they are extremely interested in the iPhone 8, intention to upgrade increases to 36% within six months and 24% within the next year. Fifteen percent of consumers who are extremely interested in the iPhone 8 said they plan to upgrade as soon as the new model is out.

iPhone owners take more control of their upgrade cycle with only 27% of users saying they only replace their phone if something breaks. This compared to the market average of 35% and 37% among current Samsung owners. The fact that only 24% of current iPhone owners are self-defined late adopters might impact the Apple numbers. Late adopters make up 38% of the overall US smartphone market and 34% of current Samsung owners.

Apple’s Biggest Opportunity

It will surprise no one that the iPhone 8’s most significant potential is with early tech adopters, 56% of which said they are either extremely or very interested in what Apple will be debuting on September 12.

Apple’s current base is the second largest source of interest with 34% of current iPhone users who said they are either extremely or very interested in the iPhone 8.

Also, good news for Apple to see that among smartphone owners planning to upgrade in the next six months a whopping 44% is either extremely or very interested in the iPhone 8

When we look at what phone models these consumers who are either extremely or very interested in the iPhone 8 currently own, it is interesting that 21% have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, 19% have an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, and another 16% have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

Interest alone, however, is not enough to gauge intent, so we went ahead and clearly asked what the likelihood of purchasing the iPhone 8 was. Fifty-seven percent of consumers who said they were extremely interested also stated they are extremely or very likely to buy. Early tech adopters remain Apple’s biggest opportunity proportionally, with 64% saying they are extremely likely or very likely to purchase or upgrade to the iPhone 8.

Finally, 32% of Apple’s current iPhone owners expressed their likelihood of buying or upgrading to the iPhone 8 as extremely likely or very likely. Close to ten percent of current iPhone owners mentioned that their likelihood to purchase would depend on the price of the iPhone. This was less of an issue with early tech adopters (4%) and among users planning to upgrade within the next six months (7%).

Interestingly, Apple sees some opportunity coming from its strongest competitor: Samsung. Seven percent of current Samsung smartphone users said they are extremely likely to upgrade to an iPhone 8 and another 15% are very likely to do so. While this is somewhat bad news for Samsung Mobile it is very good news for Samsung Display that will be providing the new OLED displays for the iPhone 8.

How Much of the Concern is Price?

Early tech adopters and consumers in the market for a new phone tend to keep up with rumors and news regarding any big upcoming product. When we listed the top rumored features and asked our panel which one they were most interested in, most gravitated around wireless charging, quick charging and improved camera sensors for improved pictures and AR. It seemed that Apple, should not be too concerned about fitting all the rumored features into the new model as consumers will buy it no matter what. When asked which single feature would be a deal breaker if missing at launch, 21% of the consumers who said they are extremely likely to purchase or upgrade to an iPhone 8 said they will be likely to buy it no matter what. Twenty percent of current iPhone users and 18% of early tech adopters felt the same way.

So if no particular feature is a deal breaker what else could influence the iPhone 8 purchase intent? Given the strong focus in the press on the price the new iPhone 8 might reach, we have been concerned that this would be the ultimate hindering factor for adoption and we wanted to validate our concern.

We first looked at early adopters, as they are usually the least price sensitive buyer. Thirty-two percent said that were excited to upgrade even if it was expensive so the price did not affect their decision much. Another 14% showed little concern as they are on an Apple upgrade plan. Finally, while maybe not ideal for Apple, not everything is lost as 18% said price did matter and they would consider another iPhone model if iPhone 8 were too expensive.

Current iPhone owners were a little more price sensitive, with 33% saying they would probably not buy if too expensive and another 33% saying they would turn to a different model, reflecting that the current base is today very diverse. There is a correlation between price and features of the new model and what perceived return on investment your current smartphone is providing. It is not so much the lack of innovation of new model as much as it is your level of contentment with the model you are currently using.

Of course, with the current installment plans, the rumored price might be more intimidating to consumers in their initial evaluation than it will actually be when the new plans are announced. In other words, thinking about an iPhone that could pass the $1000 price mark will likely put off more potential buyers than a monthly payment increase of $10.

As always, pre-orders and first weekend sales will be highly scrutinized as market watchers determine if Apple was able to pull another rabbit from the hat. Overall success, however, will be determined by sales of the new models as well as of the existing lineup becoming more affordable as our data strongly indicates.

Published by

Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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