Steve Koenig

Steve Koenig

Steve Koenig is the senior director of market research at the Consumer Technology Association in Washington, DC.

Ultra HD = Ultra-Opportunity

Ultra HD (sometimes referred to as 4K) is the latest display innovation to hit the market; but unlike other TV feature advancements such as Internet-enabled, 3D or super-thin bezel TVs, UHD addresses consumers’ desire for the best picture quality possible. For this reason, CEA believes Ultra HD equals ultra-opportunity for dealers seeking to sell the future of television today.
 
UHD TVs are entering stores across America and the buzz is spreading as manufacturers meet shipment promises made at the 2013 International CES. At the same time, many folks are asking questions about UHD similar to those asked when HD arrived more than a decade ago. Where is the native UHD content? Can consumers tell a difference from Full HD? To maximize their UHD opportunity, dealers need to understand several key points as they relate to the technology and consumer behavior. This is where CEA can help.

How To Grow Audio Sales

In a market dominated by mobile, connected devices, it’s safe to assume consumers have relinquished any expectation of audio quality. But new research from CEA reveals that while many consumers have accepted and embraced many forms of content consumption, their desire for quality audio endures. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the home. The question is how dealers can turn consumers' latent demand for quality audio into revenue and profit?

CEA's “Notions of Quality: Audio Expectations of Consumers” study (July 2011) offers many insights on consumers' listening habits, including how they define quality audio, and their attitudes and behaviors when buying audio equipment. One-third (34%) of consumers consider themselves “audio enthusiasts,” according to the research. That number represents about 80 million U.S adults, most of whom we count among our customers.

The appeal of quality audio, though, extends beyond these self-proclaimed enthusiasts. An equal number (80 million U.S. adults) say they have a moderate interest in audio. Among these moderates, some 31 million consumers go further to say they are willing to pay more for high-quality audio electronics, like receivers and speakers. While these consumers are obviously not the low-hanging fruit from a sales standpoint, they represent fertile sales ground to grow our businesses.

Dealing With Smart Customers

For years, the independent dealer channel has gone toe-to-toe with big-box retailers and etailers. While the competition has been slugging it out, a new dynamic of consumer empowerment has manifest and threatens to raise the stakes in the game of retailing. Fortunately, CEA market research brings perspective and competitive insight to meet this new business challenge.

So what is consumer empowerment and how can dealers cope with it? Mining and leveraging customer data are tactics retailers have used for years to understand consumer shopping habits and buying behaviors to fine tune their businesses. Think of consumer empowerment as the mirror image of this technique. Today, shoppers have an arsenal of tools and services available to aid them in their quest for the right solution that meets their purchase criteria and budgets.

Consider that connected wireless devices have grown in ownership, apps help users shop smarter and crowd-sourced marketing campaigns and sales allow consumers to choose their priorities when shopping. It all adds up to a new retail dynamic you've probably already started to see in your store. The good news is independent dealers are not alone in this; the rules for all retailers have changed. Better news still, dealers have some unique opportunities to address consumer empowerment and turn it to their advantage. Here are four ways to do it:

TV Sales Slowing

It might come as a surprise to some, but TV sales in the U.S. market are on the decline. After years of growth, CEA shipment data shows unit and dollar sales of digital displays dropped for the first time in 2010. CEA forecasts predict continued declines in TV sales volumes over the next several years. Faced with the reality of slowing TV sales, should A/V dealers worry?

It’s not time to hit the panic button … yet. Let’s take a closer look at the CE market to better understand the situation, discover what we can do to battle it, and to find other opportunities may exist. The downturn in TV sales might seem to signal that something is wrong, but actually the reverse is true. The TV market experienced years of expansive growth in the past decade powered by an unprecedented evolutionary cycle. The market simultaneously shifted from standard definition tube TVs to flat-panel high-definition sets. We also terminated analog TV transmissions in favor of digital TV broadcasts.

It’s been a fun ride. Since 1998, we’ve sold about 180 million DTV sets into 85 percent of U.S. households. Now, nearly three-quarters of U.S. homes own a HDTV. With market penetration rates peaking, it’s natural to see sales of digital displays declining. No market can grow in perpetuity, even though the industry would like it to.

Contribute to CEA's Industry Forecasts

Have you ever wondered where the sales figures and forecasts from Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) punctuating the pages of Dealerscope and other industry publications come from?

Selling Blu-Ray: It's Not All About Price

Despite precipitous price drops and advancing features, Blu-Ray players have struggled on the sales shelf against standard DVD players this year. The reasons are many: higher prices, consumer confusion, thin title selection, pricier movies. The question now is when will the market opportunity shift from DVD to Blu-Ray?

Selling Blu-Ray: It's Not All About Price

Despite precipitous price drops and advancing features, Blu-Ray players have struggled on the sales shelf against standard DVD players this year. The reasons are many: higher prices, consumer confusion, thin title selection, pricier movies. The question now is when will the market opportunity shift from DVD to Blu-Ray?

Soundbars Create a Buzz

Dealers looking for opportunity these days can find it where they probably least expect it: home audio

CE: A Bright Light in a Dim Economy

There’s no shortage of dire economic news today: the credit crunch, rising food and fuel prices, the housing market slump, auto sales atrophy and so on. Yet, as the U.S. economy struggles to avoid recession, the overall consumer electronics industry continues to thrive. Counter to the litany of downside economic data, the latest industry forecast from the Consumer Electronics Association predicts total CE industry shipment revenues will rise 7.3 percent this year reaching a new high of $173 billion. I know what you’re thinking. Revenue growth of 7.3 percent this year? In this economy? That sounds optimistic, even overly positive. But before you

Building Business With Home Technology

The housing market boom has significantly boosted installations of home technology products, generating a wealth of opportunity for manufacturers, integrators and dealers. But retreating housing starts along with a colder economic climate have created doubt around the ongoing health and growth of the home technology market. Are the glory days gone or does opportunity remain? The good news is recent research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) demonstrates builders remain committed to home technology, even during leaner times. But make no mistake, any dealer or installer competing in today’s home tech arena must think and act more strategically to maintain sales. For

Building Business with Home Technology

The housing market boom has significantly boosted installations of home technology products, generating a wealth of opportunity for manufacturers, integrators and dealers. But retreating housing starts along with a colder economic climate have created doubt around the ongoing health and growth of the home technology market. Are the glory days gone or does opportunity remain? The good news is recent research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) demonstrates builders remain committed to home technology, even during leaner times. But make no mistake, any dealer or installer competing in today’s home tech arena must think and act more strategically to maintain sales. Nonetheless, signs are

Framing New Opportunities

Consumers are increasingly shifting their focus in the digital imaging arena from inputs to outputs, which translates to more sharing, printing and displaying of digital pictures. This development greatly expands sales opportunities for dealers beyond the usual assortment of digital cameras on the shelf. Research and forecasts conducted by CEA over the last year help shed some light on the total market opportunity for digital imaging products and how consumer trends are influencing the sector. Manufacturers continue to parade line after line of digital cameras through consumer sales channels—all marching to the beat of more megpaixels. But multiplying megapixels are not expected

Integrators: The Aftermarket’s Latest Stars

The aftermarket for in-vehicle technology has delivered some amazing performances over the past 25 years. But today, competition from factory-installed in-vehicle systems and technology has some questioning how this category will continue the strong box-office draw. CEA shipment forecasts in traditional aftermarket segments demonstrate the spotlight on the sector is fading, which begs the question: is the automotive aftermarket facing its final curtain call? This question has dealers and vendors in the audience wriggling in their seats as they ponder the future of their businesses. Fortunately, there is a new performer waiting in the wings ready to dazzle the sales channel. OE integration products are

Over the Top

For the independent consumer electronics dealer, achieving success in today’s competitive retail environment can sometimes be an uphill battle. In fact, from a competitive standpoint one might say dealers are surrounded. CE superstores loom large and lurk around every corner, mass merchants are retrenching and expanding their CE assortments, and CE specialty stores are armed with installation services. How can small CE dealers gain ground against these veteran competitors and vie for the hearts and minds of customers, and more importantly sales? Over the years, CEA’s extensive consumer research has unearthed many strategies that the small, independent dealer can employ to garner consumer mindshare