In spite of a difficult first few months in 2012 (source GfK TEMAX – Western Europe), the consumer electronics sector has the potential to overcome the current crisis thanks to innovation, connectivity, and environmentally friendly technologies, according to research carried out by Euronics International
Euronics International commissioned Concentra, a market research company, to look at the depth of penetration of new technologies among European consumers, and to examine their purchasing habits with reference to the main drivers of choice, namely price, brand and environmental sustainability
Rome, 14 June 2012 - Euronics International, the largest European Buying Group of consumer electronics, is pleased to present the results of an international market survey carried out by the Concentra company. The survey was based on a sample of 9,500 people aged from 16 to 79 in 11 European countries: Italy, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic and Turkey.
The survey looked at purchases of televisions, mobile phones and white goods. These were considered the most representative products for the purposes of the survey, because they best represent the advances made in technology and research and development.
The results issued by GfK TEMAX for the Western European market indicate that in the first few months of 2012 there was a general fall in sales (-5.1% by volume) compared with the corresponding period of 2011. This fall notwithstanding, the period also showed some interesting developments that were evidenced in the more detailed survey carried out by Concentra.
According to GfK TEMAX (Western Europe), sales in the telecommunications sector, bucking the general trend, increased by 7.5%. The increase was particularly marked in the sales of smartphones with large displays (over 4 inches) or with inbuilt cameras with resolutions of more than five megapixels and high-definition video recording capabilities.
Concentra noted that in the mobile phone sector, there has been an increasing shift towards content.
Mobile products are widespread throughout Europe and in the past year have become a must-have product for consumers. Today one out of two people (44%) owns a smartphone, and one out of six people (14%) owns a tablet.
By including multiple functions in a single device, offering users the convenience of being able to check their e-mail at any time, remain connected to the web and to download applications, smart phones have become the most sought after consumer products in Europe (28%), followed by LCD or LED flatscreen televisions (20%) and tablets (18%).
Of the sample of consumers surveyed, 55% reported using their smart phones mainly for written communications (22.4% for texts, 18% for e-mails, 15.7% for instant messaging), and only 16% for making telephone calls.
The sizeable growth and major developments in downloadable applications ("apps") has led to the creation of a market in which content rather than the device is the real added value. The results from the survey confirmed this trend. 70% of those interviewed had downloaded an average of 22 apps on their smart phones, and in 73% of cases the apps were free of charge.
In the consumer electronics sector, the GfK TEMAX (Western Europe) showed a sharp decline of around 17% in sales of televisions compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. On the other hand, if we consider that the European television market is dominated by LCD and LED models (76%), growth can be expected as analog television sets are replaced. One out of five interviewees reported to Concentra that he or she intended to buy a new LCD or LED television by 2013.
If we also consider that 47% of analogical televisions are 10 years or more old, there is a very good chance that they will soon be replaced by more modern products.
An analysis of consumer use of television sets showed that TV programmes remain the main source of entertainment, though use of “smart” (web-based) functions are on the increase. One out of every four television sets sold is chosen because it is web-enabled, and two out of three interviewees browse the Internet directly from their television sets for an average of 56 hours per week.
The challenge for retailers, and here the GfK analysis coincides with that of Concentra, is to convince consumers of the genuinely innovative qualities of smart televisions and 3-D screens. An immediate opportunity for retailers is to be found in the European Football Championships, and Euronics should make use of them to boost sales through special offers.
Large white goods, the third representative market sector, have seen a fall of 1.3% with respect to the corresponding period of 2011 (source: GfK TEMAX Western Europe), even though sales have increased by double figures in Austria, Belgium, France and, above all, Germany. The higher sales in these countries reflect increasing awareness of the need for environmental sustainability.
GfK TEMAX reports that white goods with an energy efficiency higher than “A+” have reached the considerable level of 60% in Germany, and 50% in Austria.
Concentra also reports a growing awareness of energy and water efficiency and environmental considerations, which have become the second most important deciding factor for European consumers. Some 60% of users declared that they would be willing to replace their current washing machines with the new model capable of saving an average of €70 on electricity and water bills per year.
Finally, the research also sought to pick out the most important common factors influencing the purchasing habits of European consumers.
While the Internet remains the most popular source of pre-purchase information, between 70 and 90% of actual sales are still made in bricks-and-mortar outlets. Specialist stories remain the favourite retail points for customers, who are attracted by their competitive pricing, their considerable knowledge of the market and the expertise of sales staff.
Before reaching a final purchasing decision, a consumer visits on average 3.5 stores and compares prices 4.7 times. Price is the most important consideration (82%) followed by brand (50%), environmental friendliness (47%) and design (37%).
In conclusion, the sector can take heart from some positive indicators. In a period of falling consumer demand, European households preferred to forego the products of other market segments, but continue to treat themselves to electronic goods, especially if they are economically accessible, innovative and environmentally sustainable.
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