Ben Arnold- Senior Research Analyst

Ben Arnold- Senior Research Analyst

Ben Arnold is Executive Director of Industry Analysis for The NPD Group

Why Millennials Drive Audio Sales

Millennials are fueling some of serious growth in the home audio market, and it's not just because of their love of headphones.

How To Decrease Product Returns

With wholesale shipments expected to eclipse $190 billion in 2011 and ownership rates of several key consumer electronics continuing to climb, the CE industry continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economy.Despite high unemployment and waning consumer confidence, shoppers are still buying smartphones, high-definition TVs and tablets at a high rate. Despite the increased demand for electronics, product returns remain a factor that eats into manufacturer and retailer margins.CEA’s recent research study, "CE Product Returns (2011)," takes a look at the current state of CE product returns, comparing historic rates and offering solutions on how sellers of technology can proactively prevent returns.

CEA estimates that 18  percent of CE product purchases are returned annually (this includes video, audio, computing, and communication electronics), which about equals 2009’s estimate. CE accessory returns have also remained unchanged since then. But despite that flat rate, the amount of consumers has grown along with the selection of CE products on the market.

To develop strategies that help manufacturers and retailers better handle product returns, it is important to understand why consumers made the returns in the first place.When CEA asked consumers the top reasons prompting their most recent return, four in ten (43 percent) replied the product did not “work as expected” with slightly fewer (38 percent) saying the product broke while in use. These findings are indicative of device performance not matching the consumer’s original expectations.Education on the set-up process, compatibility with other devices, and expected performance are some of the most important steps sellers can take to minimize product returns.

Some people may question if product returns impact consumer perceptions of a retailer or manufacturer. Though some consumers may go through a short period of dissatisfaction as a result of a product return, their feelings generally do not dissuade them from making a repeat purchase.When asked how likely they would be to buy the same brand again, nearly two in three (64 percent) recent CE returners said they would buy again and a similar number (69 percent) indicate they would buy the same product.Returners are also likely to shop the retailer they bought from again with eight in ten (82 percent) indicating their willingness to shop at the same retailer.

Energy Efficiency Can Lead to Retail Sales

As the summer wears on and we all look for ways to stay cool, the topic of electricity consumption is sure to be a topic of hot conversation in many households.With outages a real possibility in most communities - due to wide spread use of air conditioners and other appliances - many consumers are looking for ways to curtail consumption. But to what extent are consumers actively trying to use less energy? CEA’s recent study "Powering Intelligent Energy Use” concludes that electricity consumption, especially related to electronics, is a major concern among most consumers.

The desire to reduce monthly electricity costs is the primary driver in saving energy. When asked about concerns related to electricity usage, most consumers (60%) identified the rising cost of their monthly bill. Other issues, such as the overall consumption level in the home (49%) and region (47%), trailed. Potential cost savings is a strong motivator in getting consumers to change their habits to reduce their overall energy consumption footprint. Can this mindset, though, influence product purchasing?

What Do Consumers Actually Think of 3DTV?

One of the biggest stories in consumer technology this year is the emergence of 3DTV. In the ramp up at retail, most consumer insights have centered on the purchase potential, including the factors that drive purchases and when consumers expect to buy. Nearly a year into 3DTV’s initial entrance at retail, with many consumers having seen 3DTV demos, the question now becomes: “So what do consumers actually think about it?”

CEA’s recent webcast The Current State of 3DTV focused on consumer perceptions following their first-hand experience. One key finding is that one in five online adults (21 percent) have watched 3D content on a 3D enabled television. Though many have seen 3DTV in a home (42 percent have watched in their own home and 32 percent have watched in someone else’s home) half report they have watched 3DTV programming in a retail setting. These in-store experiences are crucial in driving adoption of 3DTV and have the power to shape positive consumer attitudes about the technology.

Retail After the DTV Transition

On June 12, 2009, the nation underwent a monumental change years in the making as television broadcasts switched to an all digital format.