Our group decided to focus on laptop usage in college students. Specifically, the use of non-Mac laptops, rather than Mac laptops, and laptop features that appeal to college students. This report gives HP Inc. a better understanding on what laptop features are important in order to appeal to college students. We are able to provide recommendations from secondary research and primary research we collected.

Problem Definition

The problem we were trying to solve was what types of laptop features are important to college student and ultimately what features lead to a purchase decision. When conducting our research on HP, our group established a main question about their company: How can HP Inc. improve sales? We focused on the different features offered by Mac and non-Mac laptops. Within both categories, we then focused on what features different brands have that attracted our target consumer and how these features compare to what the HP Spectre offers.

Executive Summary (do after report is written)

The account plan provides research, analysis and recommendations based on the current status of Hewlett-Packard.

Situation Analysis

As of 2014, Hewlett-Packard split into two companies: Hewlett Packard Enterprises, which sells primarily to businesses, and HP Inc., which sells personal computers and printers (Bright). HP’s current brand position is a combination of providing consumers with user-friendly and efficient computers that can be utilized for both business and pleasure. In 2016, HP launched its new campaign “Reinvent Obsession”  and started advertising for its new Spectre laptop with TV commercials, videos and a microsite dedicated to consumers relationship with the laptop. Many of the ads focused on key, aesthetic characteristics of the Spectre, using keywords like “sexiest, slimmest and most beautiful”. The videos are targeting older millennials by emphasizing HP as a luxury brand that can outperform its other competitors. In a specific ad, a man is so captivated by the elegant design of the laptop that he fails to notice an impatient stewardess addressing him as other passengers are gawking at the scene. HP also plans to use social media platforms as a tool to recommend specific products to specific consumers (Pasquarelli).  

In 2017, HP Inc. led the personal computer sales market with a share of 21% (Hardwick). HP’s primary target consumers are business professionals (Haseeb). On a global level, HP leads the way ranking top in the categories of commercial desktop, commercial notebook, workstation and thin client (Coughlin).  Laptops provide the satisfaction of working more efficiently when comparing to netbooks, mobile devices and tablets. The laptop marketplace is congested with various brands competing for the largest share. HP’s main competitors and their market share is as followed: Lenovo 20.8%, Dell 15.2%, Apple 7.4%, Asus 6.8%, and Acer 6.5% (Hardwick). Even though HP holds the largest market share, since 2008 net revenue has been decreasing. Specifically, in 2008 net revenue was $42.3 billion and by 2017 net revenue had dropped to $33.37 billion (Statista).

Research Plan and Design

We used three methods of research to generate our findings: laddering interviews, a focus group and a survey. Laddering interviews allow us to gain insight into the attributes that are important to our target audience. We can then use these attributes to modify HP’s current advertising strategy to better target consumers. Focus groups give us an advantage that laddering interviews do not, they provide participants with additional ideas from other participants that can influence trains of thoughts to give a deeper and more meaningful insight. After analyzing these methods when then created a survey which is able to better quantify our findings.   

When designing our research methods we established characterics that the participants must have in order to participate in the interview. Each participant must currently be enrolled in XXX University, be between the ages of 18-24 years old and actively use electronic devices, ie. laptops.

Laddering Interview

Our goal for the laddering interview was to find out what attribute or features are the most important to our target consumers. We want to find out why these specific features are so important to our consumers and then use this to better adjust HP’s marketing strategy.  


We conducted 32 laddering interviews with participants that fit our salient characteristics. We required participants who are currently enrolled in college in the range of 18-24 years of age and use electronic devices, ie. laptops, tablets, cell phones. We recruited these participants through our own friend groups as well as recruiting participants throughout the XXX library. We wanted to have a random sample of participants so we can get a more generalized result. The guiding research question and the questions to elicit the ladder can be found in the appendix.


After analyzing the data collect from the laddering interviews, college students are very involved in their laptop purchase decision. When asked about one initial attribute that influenced their purchase decision, 30 of 32 participants listed a concrete attribute in comparison to 2 of 32 participants who listed an abstract attribute.

The reoccuring attributes that were of importance to the participants were that the laptop needed to be thin/lightweight, user-friendly, attractive and efficient. Depending on the interests of the user, specifically students interested in either computer science/gaming, the computer hardware became more important. These interests require ample storage and efficient processors and hardware. These participants valued productivity and convenience. All of the participants use their laptops for school related work such as writing papers, downloading and running various programs, and streaming music and videos. These participants value the freedom to solve basic computing problems on their own and the convenience that the physical characteristics, being lightweight and attractive, offered. Other participants strive to be accepted by their peers and owning an attractive laptop gave them a sense of self-worth and social recognition, and some participants desired a laptop that was easy to use. These participants also valued independence and convenience.

Ultimately we can conclude that there are several possible leveraging points that would peak interest in consumers: thin, lightweight and stylish design, fast and efficient hardware and user-friendly interface/layout.

Focus Group

Our goal for our focus groups was to gain much needed insight into the decision process of our target consumers when choosing and purchasing a laptop. We wanted to know what features and attributes stood out to these consumers and helped guide them to their purchase decision.


We conducted one focus comprised of eight participants. Each participant was enrolled in college and between the age of 18-24 years old.  Of the eight participants, seven were Mac users and one was a Dell user. There were three males participants and five female participants. The moderator’s questions are listed below in the appendix.


After conducting the focus group interviews we can conclude that laptops are way more popular than desktops, seeing as that out of the eight participants none had a personal desktop. The participants all generally used their laptop for the same activities: homework, streaming videos and music, internet access, Itunes, email. Photographs, online shopping and streaming music. Seven of the eight participants owned a Mac and preferred their chosen brand over others. Mac was preferred because of its user-friendly interface, compatibility with other Apple products, organization, ease of use. The one participant that currently has a Dell laptop said, “I would prefer a Mac because of its compatibility with other Apple products, like my phone”.

When asked if the type of activities that the participant uses there laptop for would determine brand preference, participants said they use their laptop to sync information between different devices (phones, tablets, etc.), for documents such as Microsoft Word and Powerpoint,photos, internet, texting and Pixelator, all of these activities are  performed on Macs and that is how the participants prefer it. One participant said, “I have a Dell because it is more compatible with the homework I have for class, certain programs are not compatible on Macs”.

Qualities that participants desire from their laptop are overall design and style, storage space, quality display, processing speed, virus protection, Ram space, compatibility and battery life. Qualities that would deter participants from a laptop are tablets that mimic laptops (tablet with a keyboard), touch screens, weight (heavy), small screen size, and high price. When asked is there were any complaints with their current operating system, all of the Mac users in the group had no complaints. However, the participants with the Dell laptop said, “there are mandatory weekly updates that I have no control over. Many times the updates happen at a super inconvenient time, like when I’m trying to do homework”.

When asked if price was a deciding factor when purchasing a laptop many of the participants though that price equated to a quality product and they were willing to pay more for a good product. All agreed that the initial purchase of their Mac was well worth the investment even with the heavy price tag.

The participants were then asked what brand of laptops was most popular amongst their peers: Apple, HP, Lenovo and Alienware. Participants were then asked if they had a preference for non-Macs or Macs. Every single participant agreed that Macs were superior to non-Macs because it is user friendly, reliable, clear and organized, updates to fix bugs, the company (Apple) listens to consumer feedback and there are new and updated products yearly.

The participants were then asked several questions about HP. The participants knowledge of the product list of HP was extensive, participants knew that HP sold printers, desktops, laptops, computer accessories, and ink. When asked if they would consider purchasing an HP laptop participants mainly said no, they would never considering switching from their Apple product to HP. However, one participant said, “I would consider HP but I would probably pick a different brand” and the other participant said, “I would consider purchasing a HP laptop based off of program compatibility because as a business major a lot of programs I use are not compatible with Apple products”. The participants were then asked how HP could improve marketing their laptops to college students. Overall, improving the quality of the products such as improving screen quality, changing the interface, increasing platform compatibility, and updating more products as well as increasing their advertisement presence (as compared to Apple).

We learned that HP as a brand is often overlooked by this demographic. All of the participants were knowledgeable about the brand so awareness is not the issue. These participants view the brand as dated and weren’t aware of HP’s new campaign that was launched in 2016. However, that campaign was also targeted towards older business professionals and not college students. We believe that creating advertisements that would target college students as well as increase their social media presence would help reach our target audience more effectively.

While conducting our focus group interviews we only managed to interview one group, typically a minimum of three focus groups should be interviewed to give accurate and trustworthy results. Having three focus groups is important because it allows the researcher to triangulate the results and make sure that none of the groups were outliers and that the results were consistent with each of the groups. Since we only completed one focus group, we cannot ensure that the results we collected would be consistent with the other focus groups. Our focus group was also primarily comprised of Mac users which could also screw the results since we did not collect much information from non-Mac users. We did not get any information from a HP user which could have provided valuable insight as to why they chose HP rather than other brands. We should have, at the very least, had two focus groups. One group with all Mac users and the other group with non-Mac users, at least half of that focus group should be HP users. Ideally we should have conducted three focus groups, one group of all Mac users, a second group of non-Mac users and a third group of all HP users. When interpreting our results we must be careful not to focus on one specific attribute more than others because we do not know if that attribute was more popular in this focus group than if we were able to compare that same attribute to two other focus groups.


Our goal for our survey is to gather as much usable data about general laptop characteristics and usage as well as collect participants opinions of HP and their advertisements for the Spectre laptop.


We created a survey that asked college students between the ages of 18-24 years old that currently owned and used a laptop about their laptop’s characteristics and current performance. In total we had 103 people participate, but after filtering out non-college students we had 67 responses. To find survey participants, we shared our survey via social media as well as asking peers to fill it out. Our sampling method would be described as opportunity sampling, because although we had a target demographic, the sampling was based around convenience. Some negatives of this sort of method is that it may not be completely representative of the population.  From our qualtrics result about ⅔ of the participants were female. We had a pretty good dispersion for our age group but didn’t get any 18 year olds.

Our guiding research questions included

-What sort of characteristics do college students look for when purchasing a laptop?

-What are the most important features to college students?

-What are current opinions of HP laptops?

-What sort of ad appeals are working and what isn’t?


Q5-  Do you own a laptop?

We just asked if they owned a laptop and this helped us to find people that HP would actually want to target. 61 of the participants answered that they did in fact own a laptop.  

Q6- How many laptops do you currently own?

We saw that 77% owned a single laptop, and 18% owned two laptops. The rest of the participants owned 3 or more.

Q7- Which of the following brands of laptop do you currently own and use for most of your everyday activities?

We found that a overwhelming majority owned Apple laptops, this number was 69% or 42 participants. Hp and Lenovo tied for 2nd place with 6.5% or 4 people owning the brand of laptop. The third highest was dell with 5% owning one and the lowest was samsung which no participants used. This question helped to give us a better understanding of what the current market looks like.

Q8- If you own a PC rather than an apple product, is there a specific reason?

Although most had checked they owned an apple laptop, we got some pretty good insight for those that did give us a reason. The most common answer was that it is cheaper, we got this 4 times on this question. We also had 2 people say something about the graphics. Although 1 said they needed better GPU capabilities and one said they didn’t “Need apple graphics.” The rest of the usable responses were related to usability such as “easier to navigate” and “touch screen and folds in half to use as a tablet.”

Q9- What activities do you use your laptop for? Select all that apply.

The answer that had the highest response rate was ‘School related activities’ with 35%, ‘streaming tv shows/ movies has 34% and ‘work’ had 22%. This question helped us gain insight as to what college students actually used their laptops for. We expected there to be a high response rate for ‘school related activities’ but we also wanted to know if students used it for more CPU/GPU intensive tasks. In the fill in the blank portion we had answers such as online shopping, blogging and movie making. Based on these results many college students don’t need their laptops for intensive tasks and mostly just use it for school and streaming shows.

Q10-What features are important to you? Check all that apply

Reliability was the biggest response here with 51 of participants saying it was important, the other top answers were battery life, user-friendly interface, storage space, and thin and lightweight. This makes sense because a lot of college kids use it for class and need to carry it around from place to place and last a long time doing it. Reliability also makes sense because it is a big purchase for a student and they would most likely to want to last them through college.

Q11- Below are statements about different laptop characteristics that people may consider when deciding which brand to purchase. Please tell us how important each characteristic is to you by indicating the level of importance of the following statements.

The top rated attributes rated “extremely important’ were processing speed, effective virus protection, easy to understand and use, and compatibility with other devices. We found that ease of use was also highest rated for ‘very important.’ We did have several variations of this same answer such as ‘User friendly’ and ‘easy to understand’ that also scored very highly. Processing speed was also important again as well asl lightweight and compatibility with other devices.

Q13- Please rank the following brands in order of quality

Apple was most rated as the best quality with 44 participants voting them the best. HP saw 3 people saying they were best and 10 people saying it was the second best. The most responses we had for HP was the 3 and 4 place mark. This tells us that many college students perception of HP is its a mid to high tier laptop which is good for us.

Q15- What types of products does HP sell?

This question we were just trying to figure out how knowledgeable people were about HP and if they even know we have laptops. 54 of our participants said they know that we have laptops.

Q16- Below are statements about HP laptop characteristics and qualities. Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.

We gained a lot of insight about how people view the company here. The strongest attributes were ‘ease of use’ and ‘easy to understand’ followed by ‘fast processing speed.’ Many participants also agreed that HP laptops were ‘inexpensive’ and had ‘good storage.’ 21 participants felt as though HP laptops weren’t ‘compatible with other devices’ or very ‘stylish.’ 1/4th of participants didn’t feel like the laptop was ‘lightweight’

Q18- If you own a HP laptop, please select characteristics that influenced your decision to purchase a HP laptop. Select all that apply.

According to this question, many participants purchase HP laptops because they are ‘easy to use’, ‘User-friendly’, ‘ease of use.’ These answers had 5 votes which is 12.2%, the second highest was ‘lightweight’ and ‘hardware is compatible with specific programs.’ These both had 9.76% of the vote.

Q19- You do not own a HP laptop, please select characteristics that influenced your decision to not purchase a HP laptop. Check all that apply.

The highest voted answer was ‘Brand image’ with 22 votes. Followed by ‘not compatible with other electronic devices’ and ‘style with 21 and 19 votes respectively. In our please specify column people said things like “I prefer Apple because I have features such as Facetime and Imessage that works with my phone.’ Out of 15 of the answers, 6 of them were related to it not being a Apple product. Also, one person said it was unreliable.

Q20- In one sentence, please give us your honest opinion of HP laptops.

We had a lot of answers here that were related to the reliability of the laptop and how we were out of date. One participant even said they are “stuck in 2009.” Another respondent said that “they are low end and dont have amazing quality but will do okay.” Many of them just didn’t have any knowledge about HP and therefore didn’t have a opinion. We had a good answer with “I think they’re ok if you’re not looking for something that’s compatible with all your devices. I also think they’re okay if you don’t need to take them everywhere.” Also, “when I was younger my family had one and it was really big and slow, it might have been because I have an image of that computer being 15 years old.” About six of the respondents said something along the lines of “It’s not an apple so it doesn’t matter.”

Summary of results:

Based of the answers we had from above, the main thing college kids are looking for in their laptops were usability, battery life, storage space, thin/lightweight. We gathered this information in question 10, now the main perception of HP laptops is that they have high usability, the price is good, but they aren’t very lightweight or very stylish. We gathered this information from question 16. Also based on the responses for question 19, many people didn’t buy HP because of the style and it isn’t compatible with other devices. People also believe that our laptops are stuck in the past and still have that old image of a bulky laptop stick in their heads. We could see this clearly in question 20.

Creative Brief

Overall, the identified problem is that HP does not advertise for our target audience of college students between the ages of 18-24 years old. This target audience has a skewed misconception that the brand is dated and difficult to use. However, this is not the case. If HP adjusted some of their advertisements towards the younger generations and improved its social media presence on various platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, this target market would have to alter their misconceptions about the brand. We should be advertising how lightweight, and stylish HP laptops are, as well as its ability to connect with other devices since this is also very important to consumers. Also just increasing general awareness about HP and their laptops would help tremendously since most college students aren’t very knowledgeable of the brand. We believe that this is an untapped market that would vastly increase sales. These consumers want laptops that are trendy and attractive while also durable and efficient. Price is not a concern as long as the product lives up to the users expectations. These consumers are willing to pay more for a laptop that will perform when they need it to.

Objective or Statement of purpose
Target Audience
Chosen Communication
Mandatory Inclusions/Exclusions


HP has a great laptop that has everything college students are looking for, usability, style, lightweight, and compatibility with other devices. The biggest thing HP needs to work on is increasing this awareness to college students because many don’t know about HP and

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