In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements in
The market for tablet computers not only in the United Kingdom but also around the world is highly competitive. With numerous multinational companies offering different models of tablets and associated products or services such as digital content, these businesses’ market share is spread out even in the UK. Major brands competing in the market include Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft, alongside other brands installed with Android operating systems (OS). In terms of OS, major competitors include Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Microsoft’s Windows OS. In the UK, majority of tablet computer owners use Android devices because of flexibility of the device and the cost of tablets. Companies compete over the product or technical specifications, the quality and flexibility of software, cost of devices, and the digital content made available through these devices. These factors affect competition in UK’s market for tablet devices.
Consumer Market Analysis
We can look into the consumer market for tablet devices by reviewing the cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors that influence consumer behaviour. Owning tablet devices is a fad or a trend. Hence, it has become part of popular culture. For this reason, part of tablet ownership is consumers’ desire to be in the “in-group” so to speak. Tablet devices as part of culture also manifest in the way that people respond to software or applications. Playing games such as Candy Crush and Flappy Bird has become a part of culture, specifically in the way that people interact with one another, which is why this is a social factor that also influences consumer behaviour. Tablet ownership and the use of devices such as smartphones have become a significant part of socialisation. Since communication is an important aspect of communication, consumers purchase tablets to make interaction more convenient. Through tablet devices, people can use Skype, for instance, to call one another anywhere and anytime.
Lifestyle is a personal factor that affect consumer behaviour. For some people, features and applications that are accessible through tablet devices have become part of their lifestyle. In today’s world, professionals use tablet devices to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. Doctors nowadays can use tablet computers to monitor their patients’ conditions and to provide progress reports or updates. The functionality of tablet devices as opposed to smartphones that has restrictions because of their small size and computers that are inconvenient because of their large size has made them part of people’s lifestyles, and one of the reasons why the market for this product is growing. In terms of psychological factors, the need to own a tablet devices for the purpose of belonging to society is one of the reasons why consumers purchase these products. This idea relates to previous arguments about cultural and social factors. Due to shared cultural meanings and rituals in society because of the use of tablet computers, consumers then feel the need to own these devices to belong.
Since the introduction of tablet computers, particularly after Apple’s release of the company’s first iPad in 2010, the rate of tablet ownership in the UK increased significantly along with the number of tablet computers in the market. Hofstede’s theory on cultural dimensions applies to our understanding of consumer behaviour in the UK. The UK scores low when it comes to power distance, which means that people generally believe in equality. Considering this aspect of British culture would explain the increasing number of people that own tablet computers. Tablet computers offer access to digital content, especially online content and resources. Hence, spreading this access through wider use of tablet devices is one way of promoting equality.
Consumers purchase tablet computers primarily because of desired user experiences from digital content. Digital content comes in the form of applications, music, film, games, and other features in tablet devices such as cameras for taking photos. Simply put, customers that purchase tablet devices are drawn to these features, services, and user experiences. For one, a customer who enjoys reading books would more likely purchase Amazon’s Kindle devices or other tablet devices with the Kindle, iBooks, and Stanza reading applications among others. In the UK, the market for tablet computers is highly diverse in terms of age and gender. User experiences vary and tablet devices offer various services and offerings for a diverse consumer population. Tablet devices cater to children, teenagers, adults, and even the elderly. Parents use tablet devices to entertain their children or to offer after-school learning experiences to them. Teenagers can use tablet devices for the same reasons but also to use social media and other online services. Adults can use tablet devices in the workplace. The elderly can use tablet devices to entertain themselves, communicate with their children, or for emergency reasons. Since tablet computers offer varied user experiences, the market also targets diverse consumer profiles or populations. For this reason, the tablet market in the UK does not focus or target one consumer population. Understanding consumer behaviour in relation to the tablet market in the UK would be more fruitful if research focuses on user experiences rather than mere demographic.
Factors that would Influence Customer Loyalty: Opportunities and Limitations
In terms of customer loyalty, user experiences and the quality of services are the two major factors that influence consumer behaviour. One of the factors related to quality of services and subsequently affect customer loyalty is the cost of tablet computers. In the past, when Apple released the company’s first iPad tablet, it gained a significant percentage of the market share of tablet computers. Nevertheless, when other companies, such as Samsung, Motorola, and Microsoft released other tablet computers gradually over the years, consumers gravitated towards these brands, primarily because of Google’s unique services through the Android ecosystem. Android proved to be a worthy competitor to Apple’s iOS. Aside from the features of Android tablets, consumers also shifted their attention to these from Apple’s iPad due to cost. In the UK, many companies such as Tesco, Hudl, and Argos are capitalising on the demand for cheaper tablet devices by manufacturing low end devices for this market.
As described by the November 2013 Mintel report on tablet computers, “content is king”, which means that the value of these devices to customers is influenced by their digital content. When we talk about content, we similarly need to talk about the operating system of tablet computers. Customers often base their decisions when purchasing tablet computers on the OS of potential devices. Apple’s iOS, having released the first modern tablet computer in 2010, is known for its extensive selection of digital content via the iTunes application. Since it was an early player, Apple has managed to race ahead and accumulate a significant number of applications for its users. For this reason, the company has taken advantage of consumers’ interest in content. Google consequently caught up by opening its platform to application development. Today, Apple and Google compete over content.
Yi, Sung, and Cho (2012, p. 182) studied factors that affect customers’ behaviour when purchasing tablet devices. The researchers found out that user experiences play an important role in influencing customers’ purchasing decision. This means that the features and offerings of tablet devices that affect user experiences are crucial in drawing the attention of customers. Partnership with other companies, particularly those that offer digital content is another opportunity to develop consumer loyalty in this market. Citing from the Mintel report, one of the best examples of capitalising on digital content and services was Amazon’s strategy of tying up its table devices – the Kindle Fire – with the company’s digital services. Hence, customers that purchase the Kindle Fire would gain instant access to Amazon’s other services such as digital films, music, games, books, and applications. Apple has also taken advantage of this opportunity by offering application development platforms for various companies such as Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, and even Instagram. At first, Apple was able to gain a significant percentage of the market because it offered exclusive access to applications and digital content. Nevertheless, Google has managed to catch up by similarly developing partnerships with these companies.
Other companies will emerge in the coming years, particularly those that would offer appealing services and offers of valuable digital content. The marketing director of a company that offers tablet consumers can gain competitive advantage over other companies such as Apple and Samsung by focus on gaining consumer loyalty. It is highly recommended that the company cope with other successful companies by offering exclusive access to digital content for customers. Hence, the challenge for the company would be to gain exclusive partnership with other companies or develop their own platforms or applications that offer in demand digital content. The marketing director can capitalise on this to advertise or promote the product to a diverse consumer base – by featuring digital content available for and useful to a different consumer populations. The company needs to move beyond tablet devices’ technical specifications and look for ways to capitalise on digital content to draw customers and gain their loyalty in return for satisfying and appealing user experiences.
Brand equity is an advantage to companies and it offers an opportunity for them to gain customer loyalty. Essentially, brand equity refers to the value of a brand resulting from its popularity in the market. Apple and Samsung significantly gain from brand equity, more so for the former company. Apple, for instance, has gained a significant market share because of its brand equity. Attached to Apple as a brand are ideas of luxury because of product cost and exclusivity because of the closed platform of Apple’s OS for its products including the iOS for its iPad line. Samsung, on the other hand, gains brand equity because the company is innovative, although Apple is known for this too, and caters to a diverse market. Samsung offers high end to low end products. Although Apple and Samsung developed brand equity for different reasons, both companies have managed to dominate the tech industry in the UK and around the world because of their respective brands. Brand equity is one of the factors that gain customer loyalty because consumers identify with the brand and if the brand’s values align with their own values, views or perspectives, and priorities, they would more likely become loyal to these brands. Furthermore, consumers would more likely identify with these brands if they are popular especially within their respective cultures or subcultures.
Considering the opportunities for development and expansion previously discussed, limitations primarily lay on the availability of resources, financial resources specifically, and the limitations set by environmental regulations and issues pertaining to the tech industry. Innovation is also key in product development. For this reason, the company would be reliant on human resources to discover innovative developments that could help the company gain competitive advantage by offering unique experiences with sophisticated technology. Research and development would assist human resources identify trends and manage information to pursue innovation. One of the major issues the industry faces is environmental degradation and other social issues. To meet the market demand for technological products, companies need different types of sources, some of which were obtained in conflict areas in Africa. This has raised not only human rights issues but also environmental issues because of the impact of company manufacturing operations on the environment. Companies have managed to address some of these issues but to improve brand equity, they must exhibit better social responsibility and accountability. Product development would also necessitate significant amount of resources. The challenge or limitation for companies is to offer better services with limited production cost while diversifying cost to cater to high end and low end consumers.
Creeber, G. & Martin, R. 2008, Digital culture: Understanding new media. McGraw-Hill International.
Furfie, B. 2010, Is the iPad a game changer? Engineering & Technology, 5(4): 34-35.
The Hofstede Centre. United Kingdom. Available at: http://geert-hofstede.com/united-kingdom.html. [Accessed: 17 May 2014].
Hutchins, B. & Rowe, D. 2013, Digital media sport: Technology, power and culture in the network society. New York, NY: Routledge.
Telecommunications, Media, and Technology Practice. 2012, Cyber boom: Why tablet domination has only just begun. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/High%20Tech/PDFs/Cyber-boom_and_the_domination_of_tablets_April_2012.ashx/ [Accessed: 17 May 2014].
Mintel. 2013, Executive Summary: Tablet computers.
Mintel. 2013, Issues in the market: Tablet computers.
Mintel. 2013, Tablet computers – UK – November 2013: Companies and products.
Mintel. 2013, Tablet computers – UK – November 2013: Motivations for and desired features in future purchases.
Moore, M. 2014, UK tablet market to ‘slump’ in 2014. Available at: http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/tablet-market-in-uk-to-fall-in-2014-136374. [Accessed: 17 May 2014].
Ofcom. 2013, The Communications Market Report: United Kingdom. Available at: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr13/uk/. [Accessed: 17 May 2014].
Research and Markets. 2014, UK – Tablet PC market forecasts and opportunities, 2016.
Sheehan, K. 2013, The ebook revolution: A primer for librarians on the front lines. ABC-CLIO.
Smart, N. J. 2012, A survey of smartphone and tablet computer use by colorectal surgeons in the UK and continental Europe. Colorectal Disease, 14(9): e535-e538.
Wischenbart, R. 2013, The Global ebook market: Current conditions & future projections. O’Reilly Media.
Yi, W., Sung, J. & Cho, K. 2012, The effect of user experience factors of tablet devices on behavioural intention to purchase in the experience zone. Human Centric Technology and Service in Smart Spaces Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering, 182: 25-36.