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Samsung & Apple Offering New Colors, but Will Consumers Want Them?

by Christopher Dodge | Sep 18, 2019

Apple and Samsung both recently announced new devices to become available in a variety of different colors – 8 unique colors for Galaxy S10 devices and six unique colors for the new iPhone 11.  Now, Apple will be offering their iPhone 11 six colors including: including red, black, white, yellow, green and purple; while Samsung will offer its Galaxy S10 in Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, and Prism Blue, with the S10e also available in Canary Yellow, and finally its S10 5G to be available in Crown Silver, Majestic Black, and Royal Gold.  Are color choices the new strong differentiator or are these vendors simply trying to provide their customers with greater choice? 

Previous research from Strategy Analytics found that black, silver, and gold were the most preferred colors for consumers’ next smartphone in the US, Western Europe, China, and India, with colors gold and rose gold growing in acceptance year over year.  

When purchasing a new smartphone, battery life remains by far the primary consideration for consumers in the US and Europe.  Android vs iOS is an important factor for more than 1/3 of consumers in both regions.

What is ranking nearly last amongst these features and capabilities is color of device indicating that consumers place a much heavier focus on hardware and software capabilities over aesthetics of their device.

  • In 2019, only 7% of consumers in the US & Western Europe place device color as a priority, compared to 9% in 2018 – showing a slight decline in interest.

While this data shows that consumer interest is low, when compared to other factors when selecting their next smartphone it does not necessarily reflect overall interest in devices.  However, given that both smartphone giants Apple and Samsung are both deploying a plethora of new and rather unique color options it does suggest that these OEMs might be fearful of losing out to their competitor due to lack of color options. 

This notion is highly unlikely, especially given the much higher ranking of operating system being second only behind battery life.  This is more indicative that users are more likely to go the route of their desired smartphone operating system, not the route of which device comes in a unique color choice.

 Consumer Smartphone Priorities: US & Western Europe Combined: 2018 & 2019:
Consumer Smartphone Priorities: US & Western Europe Combined: 2018 & 2019

Though interest is much higher in younger age ranges compared to older and slightly more important for females over males, the color is still very low ranking within each of these demographics.

  • For consumers aged 16 to 24 years, 12% put color choice a priority, even beating out 5G (9%) making color choice 4th lowest for this particular age range
  • Color choice was actually last for all male respondents in the US and Western Europe, while also last for those aged 50 and older.

Smartphone Priorities: US & Western Europe Combined: Age & Gender: Color Choice Only:
Smartphone Priorities: US & Western Europe Combined: Age & Gender: Color Choice Only

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New bold and unique colors are coming to the latest flagship phones from both Samsung and Apple.  However, they are chasing an element that consumers are less-focused on when it comes to selecting their next smartphone.

Consumers are first and foremost going to go where better battery life exists alongside their preferred mobile operating system.  There are then twelve other phone attributes and capabilities they are seeking out before getting to color choice.  This does not mean that consumers will not be intrigued and appreciative of new color choices, but is certainly not likely to sway one user from iOS to Android and vice-versa. 

Color choice can be a great thing, it is giving users further choice in their smartphone selection.  However, it creates more SKUs at the store and online levels resulting in a greater likelihood of being “sold out” of one particular color choice over another.  Six colors from Apple and eight from Samsung may initially be too many, given the lack of overall prioritization from consumers.

Plus, ultimately so many more consumers are purchasing protective cases to help protect their more expensive-than-ever smartphones which are likely to cover up the entire color of the phone, even the bezel as phones are now becoming even more bezel-less.

 -Christopher Dodge

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