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CE Accessories Grow the Industry

Consumers and retailers can’t ignore lucrative market driver

September 19, 2013 By Chris Ely Senior Manager, Industry Analysis, CEA
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Accessories, a key segment of the consumer electronics industry, are often overshadowed by top selling devices such as smartphones and tablets. Nevertheless, accessories are a strong growth driver for the industry as a whole. They add significant revenue in a number of different CE categories, and sales estimates look promising for 2013 and beyond.
The headphone and earphone markets make the most noise for the accessories division, responsible for 14 percent of estimated wholesale revenues for 2013. Headphones are the No. 1 planned CE purchase based on 2012 CE household spending levels, and are on the rise with estimated revenue growth of 13 percent (an additional $161 million) from $1.2 billion. Growth in 2014 looks strong as well, but will level off in 2015, suggesting a potential shift in the fashion trends that have helped drive the success of these devices.
The strongest growth drivers for the headphone market are in-ear earbuds and over-the-ear wireless headphones. Wired earbuds accounted for 39 percent of 2012 revenues for the headphone market, and growth will be steady in the future. Over-the-ear wireless headphones, which made up only three percent of 2012 revenues, will grow by 106 percent over the entire forecast horizon(through 2017). Headphones have currently reached a 70 percent household penetration rate.

Smartphones and tablets have an increasing household presence this year, with smartphones at a penetration rate of 58 percent (a 222 percent increase from 2008), and tablets with a 39 percent penetration rate (a 388 percent increase from 2011). The accessories complimenting these popular devices are another growth driver for the accessories CE segment. Carrying cases are a strong category, with wireless phone (smartphone and feature phone) cases anticipated to generate $117 million in additional revenue this year compared to 2012, setting the bar at $865 million overall (a 16 percent increase).

Computer carrying cases (including those for tablets, laptops and netbooks) are anticipated to bring in an additional $251 million in revenue, a 34 percent increase over the 2012 mark of $731 million. Both of these growth drivers are expected to remain strong through2015, where, like headphones, growth will marginalize. In addition, tablet owners report they use a wide variety of accessories and add-ons with their devices. The overall accessory market exploded as tablet sales increased in2012. More than half of tablet owners (55 percent) use headphones or earbuds, and three in ten (30 percent) report they use a stylus with their tablet. That said, about a quarter (28 percent) of tablet owners say they don’t use any tablet accessories.[2]
Carrying cases for wireless phones are estimated to represent nine percent of the total accessories revenue, accounting for 12 percent ofunit sales to dealers. Likewise, tablet, laptop, and netbook carrying cases are estimated to account for 10 percent of total accessories revenue, as well as 10 percent of unit sales to dealers. Overall, these cases are expected to make up one fifth of the accessories market by revenue in 2013.

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