Mixed technology market as CE sinks more slowly – GfK

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GfK has issued their latest reports into the technology sector, the findings make grim reading for the digital imaging sector but consumer electronics sees a lessened decline when compared with the month before.

Consumer Electronics

According to GfK data, the consumer electronics sector has fared better this August, and although still sees a decline by -10.7% in value in August 2013 versus August 2012, this is a big improvement compared to the -21.8% in July 2013. This is mainly due to the movement in the TV sector, which is down by -7% this month versus the same month last year.

In July 2012 data showed a big uplift in the market prior to the Olympic games, but after the start of the event the market was down in August, as consumers bought their new devices before the event started. Hence this year’s August sees more positive numbers due to the better comparison point with last year.

One area of growth is the audio separates product group, showing a value increase of 29% versus August 2012. This is driven by the loudspeakers, here especially sound bars and turntables, showing growth of 143% and 13% in value respectively. The continuous rise of the sound bar segment is due to the development in the TV market with bigger and especially thinner screens, which leads to a reduced sound quality. But also as Internet radio as well as the connected audio segment is on the rise, bringing multi-room audio forward.

The weekly data indicates that September is likely to continue with a more positive market development. This is mainly due to the negative performance last year after the Olympics and the summer of sports.

Digital Imaging

Since the start of 2013 the Imaging markets have really suffered with average value declines over 20%. The August 2013 decline is slightly better than July (-26%) but still a long way from the trends that the data showed in 2012.

Key issues in the market are the loss of several high profile retailers at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, the high level of ownership seen across product areas and the continued cannibalization of the category by smartphones and tablets. With positive growth trends in Q4 2012 GfK expects the remainder of 2013 to be challenging. There are very few sections with positive news and it seems that the accessories areas have fared better than most.

SLR value dropped once again, in August 2013, to -30%, joining the trend that we have seen for compact system cameras over the last 12 months at -32% – meaning that the usually buoyant changeable lens sector has been particularly hard hit by the lack of key product launches in 2013. Fixed lens camera value has also dropped by – 32%, but within that the usual stalwarts of Bridge (-38%), compact premium (-26%) and superzoom (-18%) have all suffered.

Within the accessories areas we see some better news with bags and tripods only dropping by -8% and total lenses by -13%. The star of the show though is the action camera which continues to substantially grow by 243% in August in comparison to August 2012.

Nigel Catlow, Business Group Director GfK UK, summarised the latest market information: “August figures for technology markets brought mixed news for the industry. Compared to August 2012 the value changes were as follows: Consumer Electronics -11%, Photo -24%, IT -1%, Major Domestic Appliances -3% and Small Domestic Appliances +14%.

CE value change at -11% is a huge lessening of the decline seen so far this year. The value decline for the last twelve months has been -18%. These markets are now coming out of the tough anniversary period of May to mid-August 2012 when the Olympics and European football increased sales of large TVs, digital radios and diverse other items such as binoculars. Hence we are now sinking less fast. We are starting to see growth in these items again. Typically there is growth in products or key features which consumers don’t already own.

For photo, smartphone cannibalization remains hugely impactful on the lower tech part of the camera market and on fixed lens camera accessories. The more sophisticated portion is also suffering more than normal because of anniversaries with some new product launches in 2012.

IT has just drifted into negative, at -1%. Without tablets this figure is -8%. Tablets’ volume growth remains high in August at +57%, more than three times the value growth because of smaller screen size concentration in 2013. Growth will continue here as ownership levels are low, accessories will also benefit.”

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