Tech Toys, Gadgets Competing for Consumers’ Time and Money

The holidays were especially good to select categories in the consumer electronics and technology categories, according to NPD INTELECT® Market Tracking, which found triple-digit sales growth in many of the hottest categories.

Holiday Sales of Consumer
Electronics & Technology Products

2000 vs. 1999
Category Percent Change
in Units in Dollars
Personal Video
300.8% 211.0%
PDAs 202.2% 165.0%
DVD Players 194.4% 102.1%
Home Theater
104.1% 139.5%
CD-RW Drives 88.5% 66.8%
Digital Cameras 74.9% 42.6%
Cellular Phones 72.1% 44.2%
Notebooks 6.7% 6.9%
Desktops -6.4% -0.2%
Printers -14.6% -22.4%

NPD tracked 47 consumer electronics categories and 39 technology categories from Thanksgiving to Christmas 2000. Overall, the 47 consumer electronics categories were down 0.3 percent in unit sales during the holiday period. However, the group did experience a growth of 5.6 percent in dollar sales as new high-ticket digital products sold well. On the technology side, despite slow desktop PC sales, several technology categories performed well. Sales among the 39 technology categories tracked by NPD were up 1.5 percent in units and 2.7 percent in dollars for the holiday period.

“While desktops are slowing in sales, we have seen the rise in portable products, such as notebooks, PDAs, cellular phones, and even headset stereos, all of which support the harried US professional and personal lifestyle,” said NPD INTELECT VP of Technology Products, Sima Vasa.

In the technology segment, desktops and printers decreased in both units and dollars. The big winners were those products that scream portability. PDAs continued to see dramatic increases in units and dollars, followed by CD-RW drives and notebooks.

The fastest growing consumer electronic categories were personal video recorders, DVD players, home theatre in-a-box, digital cameras, and cellular phones.

With all of the interest in electronic toys and the like, it should comes no surprise that a survey by home network platform firm Ucentric and Roper Starch Worldwide found that 30 percent of broadband subscribers are ready for a technology that will interconnect all of the electronic equipment in their homes. More than half (52 percent) of the respondents want to make content accessible from any screen or speaker in the home and specifically called out digital video recording and playback on any TV or computer as a demand for home networking. One-third want the ability to listen to streaming audio or watch streaming video from the Internet on their own terms, on the devices they choose.

A survey by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) found that while the majority of US households are well equipped with TVs, CD players, and PCs, consumers are engaging in similar pastimes as in 1998, such as watching TV, listening to music, playing games and surfing the Internet.

According to the CTAM survey, more than half of US households have PCs, and many have more than one. Internet usage among PC households is up from 38 percent in 1998 to 58 percent in 2000.

How Consumers Spend Their Leisure Time
Percent Using Each Medium
Activity Year
2000 1999 1998
Watching TV Programs 98% 98% 96%
Listening to Music 92% 91% 91%
Reading 91% 91% 91%
Watching Videos/DVDs* 89% 80% 88%
Playing Video Games
on TV*
74% NA NA
Surfing the Internet* 58% 38% 35%
Playing Computer Games* 27% 36% 44%
* among households with proper hardware
Source: CTAM

Related reading