Sat-nav goes green

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A great success story for the consumer electronics industry, the satellite navigation (or sat-nav) sector has seen high levels of growth over the last few years. Figures from data specialist GfK show that sat-nav was the fastest-growing consumer electronics sector in 2006, and the figures for last year are also encouraging. Sales volume has seen significant growth from 2,316,377 (January-December ’07) to 2,725,841 units (January-December ’08). Overall sales value has decreased slightly, but this can be attributed to average prices falling rapidly, as the products become more mainstream and also to heavy discounting during the current economic downturn.

GfK’s account manager for Consumer Electronics, Sumit Burgul, explains: “The portable navigation market continues to grow in volume terms year on year. The key contributory factors towards this rise have been an increasing consumer awareness of the benefits of these devices together with prices becoming ever more affordable.

“If the host of added value features offered within portable navigation devices, such as Bluetooth, European mapping and widescreen format, continue to find favour among UK consumers then there is a significant opportunity for value sales within the category to be bolstered in 2009.”

TomTom’s Damian Woodward, sales and marketing manager UK & Ireland, explains that there has been some consolidation in the market over the last year, with several major manufacturers leaving the market, and others merging. This presents a huge opportunity for those that remain in the sector, particularly the well-established brands.

Woodward comments: “There has been some price pressure but the products continue to be extremely popular, from the entry-level models to the more sophisticated products that include advanced services, such as the TomTom GO LIVE range. As a navigation device is a product that people rely on, consumers look for high quality brands that they know they can trust.”

New directions

So, what’s new in the sat-nav market? TomTom’s latest products – the GOx40 LIVE range – come with a range of live ‘connected’ services delivered over-the-air thanks to TomTom’s partnership with Vodafone. These services include TomTom High Definition (HD), Fuel Price Search and Google Search. The products also offer plenty of other benefits including IQ Routes, to offer the most effective route depending on the time of day, along with voice recognition technology.

Many manufacturers have incorporated Bluetooth wireless technology into their new models. For example, JVC’s KW-NX700 can be used with a mobile phone – and is also compatible with the iPhone – to enable hands-free calling. Garmin, which offers a vast range of sat-nav products has also introduced Bluetooth on its latest models.

Navman recently launched three new Navman Spirit models to complement its entry-level S100 launched last year, adding Bluetooth connectivity, among other new features.

Going green

Increased awareness about environmental issues among consumers has grown exponentially over the last year or two, and their spending habits have been affected accordingly.

With this in mind, a new player Vexia – part of Spanish company Crambo Laboratories – has introduced the Econav. This is a cost-cutting sat-nav system that shows users, in real time, the most economical and ecological way to drive. As well as suggesting fuel-efficient routes, the device will advise on safe braking distances, depending on weather conditions, while an eco tips feature will alert users to matters of vehicle maintenance and security. There are around 6,000 cars in the Econav database so that settings can be tailored to the user’s vehicle and journey. According to the maker, the new products can provide up to 30% reduction in fuel consumption (15% on average), meaning that the system will have paid for itself after a year.

The Econav 350 sports a 3.5in screen, along with day/night walking modes. The top-of-the-range Econav 450 offers the same benefits, along with the added bonus of a larger 4.3in screen.

As with most consumer electronics products, in-store demonstration is key when it comes to selling sat-nav units. This is where it’s well worth taking advantage of the training offered by manufacturers. For example, TomTom invests heavily in training for store staff and also offers a range of marketing support and PoS material for independent retailers.

Sales Tips:

  • Attend manufacturer training sessions to get to know the products.
  • Let potential customers try the products out in the shop.
  • Find out how the customer will be using the product and select the most suitable model.
  • Advise customers that sat-nav units need regular updates.

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