The latest GfK research into Australian mobile phone purchasing has found that Nokia is losing popularity in the youth market where it has failed to match other brands like Motorola in the fashion stakes.

The study, which was conducted in July by GfK Australia’s Custom Research Division canvassed 1026 mobile phone users and found that although Nokia continues to dominate the market overall (with 43 percent of new phone sales), it has lost ground in the under 25 segment, where it has 31 percent, with Motorola nipping in at its heels with 27 percent.

“We found that 50 per cent of 15-17 year olds replaced their mobile phone within the past 12 months, compared to 21 per cent in the 35-44 years category and just 15 per cent for over 55s. While a majority of people chose to upgrade because their previous handset was out of date or unfashionable, the under 25s was the only group which cited the design and appearance of their handset as the most important factor when choosing their new handset,” said GfK Australia’s Research Project Manager, David Griffin.

 “Younger people are all about phone fashion and our research shows that Motorola clearly does this best.  According to our data, Motorola was the only brand where the most popular reason for purchase was design and appearance rather than price, features or functionality.
“In a market where most phones have similar features and there is very little price differentiation between products, it is becoming more difficult for handset manufacturers to differentiate themselves. Design and appearance may be one of the few remaining opportunities to really stand out,” he said.

Although the youth are looking for bling, it seems the older crowd of mobile users are still quite satisfied with Nokia. The company holds 53 percent of sales amongst 45-54 year olds, compared to Motorola’s 18 per cent. However, GfK found this group was far less likely to upgrade regularly, with only 16 per cent of users replacing their handset within 12 months.

“Prior experience, brand reputation and reliability play a huge role in the selection of a Nokia handset, and this clearly has a greater impact on sales in older age groups,” explained Mr Griffin.

“But if Australia continues to follow the US trend (where Motorola holds market dominance), then Nokia has cause for concern. Many analysts attribute Nokia’s late adoption of the popular clamshell form as the reason for its loss in sales and our research has confirmed the importance of handset appearance.

“Certainly, this new study is a wake-up call to all mobile phone manufacturers that they cannot afford to ignore design and fashion issues when targeting new phone buyers,” he said.

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