Apple, Samsung nearly neck-and-neck in smartphone customer retention

But Apple did a better job of stealing Samsung's customers than vice versa

Apple and Samsung were almost equally able to keep customers in their respective smartphone folds over the last 12 months, an analyst said Monday.

"Apple has built one of the world's most successful brands, and it's well known for the loyalty of its customers," said Michael Levin, co-founder of Chicago-based Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). But Samsung's not that much different.

"You can hate each other as much as you want, but you're the same," said Levin of the two groups.

According to CIRP, 42% of iPhone buyers over the last year had upgraded from an older iPhone, a sign of customer loyalty.

But Samsung's ties were nearly as strong: 38% of Samsung smartphone buyers had come from an older Samsung smartphone.

The nearly identical statistics for Apple and Samsung were unexpected. "It really surprised us, that Samsung's brand loyalty was nearly equal Apple's," Levin said.

For those figures and others Levin cited, CIRP had tallied four quarterly surveys conducted between July 2012 and June 2013; each survey polled 500 Americans who had bought a smartphone in the preceding 90 days.

Levin attributed Samsung customer loyalty to its aggressive brand marketing, including in-store placements and a strong string of television ads. "Samsung threw a lot of money at [brand awareness] and to a large extent they succeeded," he said.

There were differences between the two companies' ability to woo each other's customers, however. Among people who switched brands, Apple was able to pilfer three times as many Samsung customers (33%) as Samsung was able to steal from Apple (11%), Levin said.

Meanwhile, Samsung had the advantage over Apple in drawing customers from so-called "feature" phones, the basic models whose sales were eclipsed by smartphones for the first time in the quarter that ended June 30. CIRP's data said that 37% of Samsung smartphone owners had upgraded from a feature phone, while only 26% of Apple customers had dumped a basic model for an iPhone.

Levin credited Samsung's broader smartphone portfolio -- it has many more models than does Apple, with a wider range of prices -- for the company's ability to attract feature phone owners.

Other data collected by CIRP included PC and Mac ownership -- as expected, iPhone owners were more likely to own an Apple Mac, while Samsung customers were more likely to own a Windows PC -- age, income and education.

Generally speaking, Apple smartphone owners were slightly younger than Samsung's customers, and more likely to have an annual income over $75,000 and a college or advanced degree.

Apple and Samsung are nearly neck-and-neck in their ability to hang onto customers. (Image: Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Brand management starts with management

As the world continues to grow and evolve, it’s more important than ever to build a strong brand that articulates your message clearly and consistently, stands out against the noise, and develops relevance with the people that matter. This makes managing your brand a key component to gaining cut-through and ultimately business success.

Dan Ratner

managing director, Uberbrand

Disrupting marketing as we know it

Call it digital disruption or the fourth industrial revolution, our rapidly evolving environment is affecting consumer perceptions, purchase behaviours and the way they consume information and products.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Should your disclaimer become your headline?

To avoid misleading customers, or simply through fear of legal backlash, advertising has evolved to hide the potential shortcomings of an offer in its disclaimer.

Sam Tatam

Head of behavioural science, OgilvyChange Australia

Very interesting article which touches on the importance of a feedback loop fuelled by customer and market insights. Ideally this scenari...

Andrew Reid

Building customer insights in the data and digital age

Read more

Very very good piece- very novel and innovative and very possibly- effective - way to look at one's communication headlines!

Patrick Dsouza

Should your disclaimer become your headline? - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Excellent post Rob, Mobile app users are growing day by day. Everyday lots of apps are launched in the market but not every app retains t...

Marcus Miller

Why app engagement must be personalised - Mobile strategy - CMO Australia

Read more

very informative blog. I really like the information given in this blog.http://gng.com.au/

Gajanand Choudhary

The evolving role of the CMO - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

It is true That’s the new read following up Deloitte Digital's Digital disruption - Short Fuse, blowup analysis series, that appearance t...

miller645645@mail.ru

Digital disruption about to impact health, education sectors

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in