Antecedents of smartphone purchasing behaviour amongst South African Generation Y students
Mobile phones have been around for years, with rapid developments leading to the current generation of smartphones. Smartphones have been the latest technological addition to our daily lives. Several studies have proven a rapid growth in the industry with an increased need to own these devices as a modification to our daily connection and convenience in life. The smartphone industry is very competitive with its common focus being to keep existing customers and convert new ones to their brand. It is vital for each manufacturer to stay ahead or in line with its competitors by providing customers with a range of products that will cater for different needs with the latest technology and competitive pricing. Technology adoption remains one of the defining factors of human progress as the world is becoming increasingly interconnected, both economically and socially, due to the high number of smartphone owners (Poushter, 2016:3). The increase in smartphone usage has amplified research interest in this phenomenon (Mohan, 2014:9). The rapid advance in technology causes firms to operate in increasingly competitive environments full of gradual and radical innovations (Eisdorfer & Hsu, 2011:2). Consequently, smartphone brands have to find ways to gain a competitive advantage. This study focussed specifically on Generation Y students as they are present in the marketplace in great numbers and their purchasing power has an unprecedented effect on the economy (Noble et al., 2009:617). This generation is poised to take over as the largest and most lucrative consumer group for marketers (Hughes, 2008:74). Generation Y understand the power they possess as consumers of digital technologies and they are ready to share their opinions and experiences across various platforms, as they rely on each other to make informed purchase decisions (Gailewicz, 2014). The primary objective of this study was to determine which factors influence South African Generation Y students’ smartphone purchasing behaviour. Adopted scales were used to meet this goal, which measured product features, brand loyalty, brand personality, purchase intention, social influence and dependency. The sampling frame comprised a list of the 26 South African registered HEIs, from which a convenience sample of three HEIs situated in Gauteng province was selected. A non-probability convenience sample of 450 Generation Y students between the ages of 18 and 24 was selected for this study. A self-administered questionnaire was used to gather the required data. After the cleaning process, 429 questionnaires were deemed viable. The collected data was analysed using exploratory factor analyses, a descriptive statistical analysis, a correlation analysis, regression analysis and a two independent-sample t-test. Results showed that the students’ most preferred brand was Apple, followed by Samsung. Respondents also indicated that most of them (32.6%) spend more than 8 hours a day on their smartphones. The regression analysis suggests that smart phone purchasing intention is influenced by product features, brand personality, brand loyalty, social influence and dependency. It is therefore important for brands to find a way to connect with Generation Y consumers. Generation Y students’ have preferences for specific smartphones and they show high intentions of better purchasing decision in the near future. Students are very dependent on these devices for both work and personal use. Furthermore, two independent-sample t-test show that females are more dependent on their smartphones than their male counterparts. The data collected in this study can be used by producers, marketers and mobile operators of smartphone brands. The results will help to better understand the Generation Y cohort and what influences their purchasing decisions of smartphone brands. Consequently, marketing efforts can be altered to influence the buying behaviour of this cohort. Furthermore, researchers conducting similar studies could use these results as a point of reference and for comparison.