Cell chip shortages — hear from AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon consumers.

cell phone chip shortage

Love hurts.

But, so do cell chip shortages. In fact, this whole supply chain fiasco1 is creating a world of hurt with consumers. It’s so bad, they’re now falling out of love — with buying a new phone.

Here’s why.

  1. Demand > supply.
  2. Buyers can’t get what they want.

Let’s take a look.

Issue #1: Demand > supply.

Ah, economics … 

My least favorite subject in school. Well, any math is, really 🤔 … But, I digress. Thanks to a pandemic and high demand— a global chip shortage is killing commerce. No math needed on that one. I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now.

Here’s a shortlist of its victims:

  1. Cars.
  2. Video games.
  3. And, smartphones.

Now, let’s dig into demand, by looking at buyer behaviors.

For starters, 57% of cell phone shoppers left AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon without the phone they wanted. Alone, that doesn’t directly tie to demand. But, there’s more. 54% decided to wait to purchase a new phone. Okay, that’s interesting. They want something … but can’t find it.

So, they leave, empty-handed.

At least … 78% of the shoppers in these stores did — they bought nothing.

Well, that’s bad for business. If nearly 8 in 10 leave your store without buying, it’s going to hurt the bottom line, for sure. But why — is this chip shortage really to blame?

Yup, I’ll show you.

While 45% said they’d heard about the shortage — a full 43% learned about it in-store. That means they got the information, right before they walked away. Yeah, that’s nearly half.

Chip shortages create buyer headaches.

Clearly, demand is an issue, and it’s greater than supply. 

Issue #2: Buyers can’t get what they want.

Now, demand is a good thing, right?


Not always. Yes, it means people want to buy your product. But if you can’t supply that product, it creates pain for everyone. Case in point — 34% of the people who bought something at their store of choice felt the chip shortage impacted their purchase. 

So, picture this, for a moment.

You step into a brightly-lit store, dying to buy the latest new phone, like 48% of our consumer panel. After all, if you’re like 52% of in-store shoppers, you came in to buy a product.3 Only, your buyer can’t get what they want. It’s why, 41% tried (and failed) to buy the Apple iPhone 13.

Chip shortages suck.

Now, what?

Well, as a buyer, you have choices. You can wait for a perfectly new phone, or you can switch carriers. So, which will your buyers choose …? It’s a mixed bag – 61% will check back later and 13% will hold onto their old phone — for now.

But, you can’t wait forever.

So, how long will buyers hold out? Well, 72% will wait up to 3 months. That’s nice … right?. Nope. Experts say this shortage will stick around.1 Sounds like 3 months isn’t long enough.

Uh oh.

Buyers won't wait long, for that new phone.

Now, you need to be concerned with switchers. Because half of cell phone shoppers exiting AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile will consider leaving their carriers to get the phones they want.

Where’s the love — buyers?

Gone, apparently. These guys are no longer loyal.4 Yes, 60% of would-be “switchers” have been with a carrier for up to 4 years. That’s a long time in cell phone land. But, they’re motivated to move on. They want a new phone, and 47% think they can get a better deal somewhere else.


What can you do about it?

Get proactive.

If you’re in the cell phone industry, it’s time to talk to your buyers. You need to know exactly what they’re thinking and why. Start by surveying shoppers as they leave. Find out how their experiences were in-store, as they walk out. Then hear what they need — to stay.

You won’t know … until you ask. 

Then, stay on top of them. Watch your buyers in real-time. You already know 2021 shoppers are super fickle, so don’t get caught unaware. Monitor consumer behavior over time. It’s how you’ll get competitive intel, see if you’re losing share — and create a better customer experience.

Start now. 

Here’s a 7-day free trial to see buyers in real-time before, during + after they hit your location. Need more? Here’s your free pass to a database of 1,699+ insights. You’ve got this.

Let’s go.


  1. https://www.androidheadlines.com/2021/10/chip-shortage-smartphone-shipments-2021.html 
  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/29/the-global-chip-shortage-is-starting-to-hit-the-smartphone-industry.html 
  3. https://mfour.com/report/path-to-purchase-in-store-vs-online/ 
  4. https://mfour.com/webinar/brand-loyalty-after-covid-19/ 

By Urielle Corcuera

Reviewed by Allyson Wehn

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