The Roles of Different Types of Consumers in the Demand for the iPhone
On the 14th of October, hundreds and thousands of people from all around the world queued for hours just to purchase a gadget of the future – the iPhone 4S. “Outside the Apple store on Regent Street in London, a line of shoppers snaked down nearby Hanover Street ... [whilst] in Covent Garden at least 700 people were queuing (Mathis, 2011).” It makes one wonder how innovative this product really is to draw this much attention. What do consumers see in the iPhone? Is it about product viability, status enhancement or just another Apple product to tick off the list? “Consumer behaviour refers to the selection, purchase and consumption of goods and services for the satisfaction of their wants (Shah, 2010).” There are six main types of consumers in society, each with different roles. It is vital to examine the various functions of each type of consumer with regard to the iPhone. Several factors influence the type of the consumer and his/her consumption. These range from culture, social class, family, roles and status, age, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle and beliefs. Basically, consumers identify themselves within a particular group and act accordingly towards consumption and demand for innovation whilst considering the product life cycle. In order to determine the effect of the iPhone on consumers, a background of the product must be considered. The iPhone 4S is the most advanced piece of technology Apple has ever invented. It is an upgrade to the iPhone 4 and was released only a month ago. Its new features include Siri, an intelligent personal assistant that helps you with your needs. Moreover, it has a dual-core A5 chip which makes browsing, gaming and everything faster. Add to this an 8MP camera, iOS 5 updated software, iCloud to store content on devices and all the previous functions of the iPhone 4 and you have the smashing new iPhone 4S, “the most amazing iPhone yet (Apple, 2011).“ It is currently priced from £499 and its demand is gargantuan. The iPhone may be distinguished as a luxury good for some or a normal good for another. This all depends on the background of the consumer. Most of the people lining up on the first day of the iPhone 4S release or the early stages of the product life cycle are more likely to be categorised as Marshall consumers or Veblen or Bourdieu consumers. These are two of the six main types of consumers. Marshall consumers are described by Swann (2010) as “actively seeking out new and different consumption opportunities and actively making the most of each consumption experience (Swann, p 195).” These consumers simply demand the new innovation but do not necessarily need the newly released innovation. On the other hand, the Veblen or Bourdieu consumer is one who “purchases higher-priced goods whereas similar low-priced substitutes are available ... caused by the desire for conspicuous consumption (Business, 2011).” They are active consumers who yearn for distinction. Marshall consumers are plainly people who are interested about the new product and their benefits. Their passion includes getting a hold of the newest products to appease their demand for innovation and to discover what they have to offer. To them, the iPhone 4S may be nothing but an upgraded version of the iPhone 4 yet just for the sake of change and because of the fact that it is the latest gadget, they will purchase it. On the contrary, the Veblen consumer “can be influenced by the behaviour of at least three groups: a peer group ... a distinction group .... and an aspiration group (Swann, p.192).” These consumers desire distinction and separation from everyone else. The new iPhone is definitely an opportunity to demonstrate distinction. Having a top of the line smart phone newly released by Apple symbolises a massive amount of wealth. Veblen consumers demand the iPhone at its initial stages as a sign of high social class. Similarly, the Bourdieu...
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