Market research you need for starting a phone case business4 min read
The phone case industry is enormous and isn’t going to stop anytime soon. With more and more phones released each year, the demand for new cases to protect mobile phones is rising. It’s a never-ending cycle.
Have you ever thought about how big the industry is? Whether there are any potential customers left? It’s okay to feel scared about the competition out there, but I want you to know there is still plenty of room for you. Here is my phone case market research to help you get started and put your mind at ease.
How big is the smartphone industry?
There are currently more cell phones than human beings on the planet. Companies are creating new cell phones every year. People are constantly changing and grabbing the latest smartphones to keep up-to-date with society. Nobody wants to feel left out.
In 2016, reports showed that 2.1 billion people owned a smartphone. Predictions show that in 2020 2.8 billion people will have a smartphone. The smartphone industry, culture, and sales will never end as technology keeps developing and advancing.
In 2016 companies made a total of $428.9 billion in sales, globally, with smartphones alone.
What about the phone case (accessories) business?
With a growing population, more and more people are getting mobile phones. In most developed countries, disposable income is increasing too. People are spending hundreds of pounds and dollars on accessories for their smartphone, one of those accessories being a protective phone case. You could put protective phone cases into three categories, described below.
Affordable Generic Cases ($1 – 9)
The affordable case is typical of the mass market. Someone not looking for anything particular, unique but just wants a case to slap onto the back of a phone so it can be protected. No thrills and surprises here.
These cell phone accessories are mass-produced and extremely inexpensive to purchase. The competition for these accessories is very wild and intense. It is possible to sell these phone cases and make a profit, however, I must warn you, you must sell lots of them consistently to see any decent returns.
Cases with a little more oomph! (Phone cases from $10 – 39)
When I say “oomph!”, I’m talking about phone cases which comes in exclusive or branded quality packaging. They may also offer more with the situation, such as a braided cable, warranty or tempered glass screen protector.
Phone cases like this are priced high. They don’t have to be unique but certainly does have to have quality and brand reassurance. Customer service is the key feature of these cases.
Made for a purpose case (Phone cases from $40 – 100+)
There are some cases built for a specific purpose. Such as a phone case made to prevent your phone from falling from your hand. There are even cell phone cases which attach to your phone and can substitute as a lighter, an instant polaroid camera and charging case.
These cases almost always come at a premium. Many have the purpose of transforming your phone to do other tasks that it wouldn’t be able to otherwise. When purchasing such a case, customers may expect fantastic customer support, quality branding and materials.
These cases can be sold upwards of up to $100+.
How many potential customers are there for a phone case business?
- In 2016, there was an estimated population of 322 million people in the United States.
- 95% of the population, in America, own a cell phone of some kind.
- Around 77% of that figure had a smartphone.
- 79% of smartphone users in America use some sort of protective casing.
With some quick maths, we can work out, in the United States alone; there is a potential of 186 million customers for protective smartphone cases.
I repeat 186 million potential customers in the United States for phone cases alone.
How do I start a phone case business?
There are many ways to start a phone case business. Go to our resources page to find the best way for you to start your very own custom phone case business.
Start a phone case business using dropshipping
Dropshipping is a quick and easy method to get you in the market. Dropshipping is about finding suppliers and becoming the middleman. As the middleman, it will be your job to market products, and when you get orders, you forward it to your supplier, who will then ship it to your customer.
Pros: The pros of using the dropshipping method means you do not need to buy in bulk or continuously update your inventory for the latest releases. Using the dropshipping method, you can always update phone cases, fast and regularly on your website. You do not need to worry about handling inventory.
Cons: If you decide to go with drop shipping methods, it means your profit margins will be smaller depending on the location of your supplier. Often drop shipping to customers has long delivery times of up to 3 months.
So customer support should be on point to deal with any shipping delays. Most drop shippers supply tracking with their postage method; so whenever possible, use a tracked shipping method.
If you want to learn more about becoming profitable by drop shipping phone cases or accessories, be sure to check out the resources page!
Start a custom phone case business using order and fulfilment services
Print-on-demand is similar to drop shipping, but with a more personal touch. Using this method allows you to give your brand a name and personalization.
Print-on-demand services allow designers, creators, and influencers to create their brand and have their custom designs printed and shipped to customers. The best part of it is that you don’t need to do any of it yourself, except provide designs and market your brand.
If you have a design; you can print and sell it to your customers without actually having to make it yourself or handle any inventory. Most order and fulfilment services allow custom packaging when sending out items to customers. Custom packaging is great for brand identity and giving your customer a more fabulous experience.
If you are interested in using print on demand, head over to the resources page to see which print-on-demand web services I use.
Pros: It is easier to concentrate on design and marketing. You also have the potential to ask for a semi-premium price with your unique custom designs and brand identity.
Most printing companies brand the packaging to your business needs. The print-on-demand service handles all the shipping. Order and fulfilment companies also allow printing on other items such as mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, canvases and much more. They are thus enabling you to expand your business.
Post and packaging are always professional and branded with your company name. You also can benefit from low-shipping fees as the company receives a bulk discount from their suppliers.
My personal favourite thing about print-on-demand companies is the automation process.
Cons: Customer service may take longer as you communicate between the print-on-demand service and customer. If the customer decides to return an item, it may be more challenging to deal with and lead to a loss of profit. However, with that said, I have rarely had to speak to customer service using my print-on-demand supplier – if I did have to talk to the customer service team, I had quick and proper responses.
Starting from the ground up – Buying your own machine!
Printing and shipping yourself is perhaps the most profitable way but can also be challenging. In the beginning, if you have no prior experience in print, firstly you will need to buy yourself a vacuum sublimation printer.
This route certainly gives you more options than just to print phone cases and sell it for yourself. Having your very own machine means you have more control over the production of your phone cases.
You can even take it to kiosks, events, and fairs. Having your kit and machine will allow you to be more profitable when selling your cases.
Pros: You control everything, including postage, packaging and what you print on. You can ensure the quality is always at the standards you want it to be. You can take your machine around (depending on the size) to events and market your amazing products. You can create and sell custom case designs sent by the customer.
Cons: The startup cost is undoubtedly more expensive. A primary sublimation machine can cost up to $300-600. You also need to keep in stock several different cases and continuously update your inventory to keep up with the smartphone demand.
If you decide to do this yourself, you will have to dedicate time to prepare, print and create phone cases.
Do I need a business plan?
I will keep this answer short. No, unless you want money from investors. What’s more important than a business plan is a marketing plan. Ensure you learn how to market your business. Also, excellent customer service can differentiate you from other sellers. So keep that in mind.
If you’re still on edge, I encourage to read this quick full guide to starting a phone case business. It covers creating a business plan, finance, vendors and more.
Conclusion for the phone case market research
I hope this phone case market research has helped you understand the market better and see the potential for opportunities out there.