The relationship between the consumer and the mobile phone

Sara Wienziers-Madsen & Jeanette Tui-Ehrenreich

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Executive summary: Today 93% of Danes have a mobile phone and the mobile phone can be considered an integral part of everyday life of the Danish consumer. In the present study we seek to understand the relationship between the consumer and mobile phone. We do this by conducting a qualitative study that has an inductive approach with an existential-phenomenological view. Our findings are based on 20 semi-structured interviews of young Danes. These interviews have been conducted and analyzed based on a modified version of the principles of grounded theory and have integrated theories of the extended self, uses and gratifications and paradoxes of technologies. By combining findings with the different fields of theories we contribute with a conceptual framework that gives a holistic understanding of the relationship between consumers and their mobile phones as well as fill research gaps for each of the theories presented. Based on the findings the main managerial implication is that consumers view the mobile phone as a social tool, a way to keep connected with their friends and family. The mobile phone should thus be considered a ‘friend in the hand’ and not a ‘brand in the hand’ and practitioners should adapt their commercial messages accordingly. The conceptual framework consists of six categories: Choice, Personalization, Uses and Gratifications, Control, Physical Proximity and Loss of Possession. The relationship between the consumer and the mobile phone starts pre-acquisition when the consumer chooses a mobile phone. Informants were concerned with the design of their mobile phone and more interested in being similar to others rather than standing out. As there only is a limited selection of mobile phones on the market, it can be difficult to stand out in the choice of mobile phone alone. Therefore, the next step of personalizing the mobile phone is important, as informants attempt to make their mass manufactured possession their own. Changing the settings or having a cover can do this. Informants use their mobile phone due to the many functionalities and gratifications they receive through usage. However, the consequence of these uses and gratifications causes them to feel controlled by their mobile phones. This is also why informants felt calmer when the mobile phone was physically close to them and when they knew where the mobile phone was at any given time. When the mobile phone was lost, informants felt both sad and relieved. Relieved, because they are not controlled by their mobile phones in a period of time, and sad, because they loose the relationship they have come to form with their mobile phone through choice, personalization, uses and gratifications.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages244