Online Consumer Electronic Sales to Soar

The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) has released a study indicating that Internet sales of traditional consumer technologies to online households should reach at least $14 billion by 2002, representing 13 percent of total industry volume.

CEMA’s consumer research found that interest in buying consumer technologies should grow by at least 135 percent in the next two years. The survey was conducted via email with 2,725 online households in the US responding.

“Whether consumers make the purchase online or not, the industry will see a tremendous increase in the use of the Internet as a research tool,” said Todd Thibodeaux, VP of market research at CEMA. “On average, more than 75 percent of consumers who likely will make a consumer technology buy in the next two years will use the Internet to research their purchase.”

More than two-thirds of the survey’s respondents had shopped for or purchased a piece of computer hardware, a software item, or computer accessory using the Internet. Computer products are far and away the leader of the pack when it comes to online electronic purchases. Other home-office products such as phones and fax machines are second with 23 percent of online shoppers using the Internet to help them make such purchases. However, traditional consumer technology categories such as home and portable stereos, color televisions, VCRs, and camcorders are starting to be impacted.

The survey also found that rate of Internet shopping doubles (relatively) among those who use the Internet in combination with brick and mortar retail to make a traditional consumer technology buy. The overall Internet shopping rate for color TVs was 6 percent. The shopping rate rose to 12 percent among people who regularly use the Internet as part of their shopping process. Other categories show similar increases according to CEMA. The VCR, DVD, or camcorder shopping rate rises from 12 percent to 18 percent. For home stereos, not only does the Internet shopping rate increase from 10 percent to 19 percent, but the Internet buy rate more than doubles to 4 percent when consumers use the Internet and traditional retail to make a purchase.

“The Internet and traditional retailing are working together in consumers’ views,” Thibodeaux said. “They don’t see them as separate realms.”

According to the CEMA survey, the typical consumer technology Internet shopper is most likely male (85 percent). Men are more than three times as likely to use the Internet to shop for consumer technologies than women. The demographic is also younger. Someone who uses the Internet to shop for a color TV or a home stereo product is more than twice as likely (proportionally) to be a Gen-Xer or a Baby Boomer even after accounting for the lower overall home stereo purchase rates for the senior demographic. For instance, only 5 percent of senior citizens have used the Internet to shop for a home stereo product versus 12 percent and 11 percent for Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.

Online consumer technology shoppers are also more likely to use the Internet regularly to become a more educated shopper and to buy at lower prices. The shopper is more likely to browse the Internet frequently in the buying process, rather than just going directly in and out of a site to find what he or she wants.

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