Consumers are less likely to buy single-function electronic products in the next year, while intentions to buy multi-function devices have increased dramatically, according to a new Accenture survey.
Conducted in September 2012, the survey explored consumer usage and spending habits for 16 types of consumer electronic devices, 11 of which perform a single function and five that execute multiple functions. Consumers’ intentions to purchase single-function devices have fallen or remained flat compared with the prior year. For example, the percentage of survey respondents planning to buy BluRay DVD players fell slightly, from 11 percent to 10 percent, while purchase intentions for digital photo cameras, digital video cameras, and game consoles remained flat.
In sharp contrast, the percentage of respondents planning to buy multi-function devices in the next year increased significantly, from 16 percent a year ago to 36 percent for desktop and laptop PCs; from 27 percent to 41 percent for smartphones; from 20 percent to 33 percent for HDTVs; and from 16 percent to 23 percent for tablet computers.
“The consumer electronics market is now predominantly a four-horse race among multi-function devices–PCs, smartphones, tablets and HDTVs,” said Mattias Lewren, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech industry group. “This development amounts to a call to action for electronics manufacturers. They need to focus squarely on innovative devices with multiple applications, from browsing to media consumption to communications in various settings. Consumers want ‘do-it-all’ capabilities in various sizes and user experiences that fit their different lifestyle needs.”
Some bright spots for single-function electronics
While purchase intent for single-function devices is largely flat or declining, a few bright spots emerged, namely basic mobile phones, global positioning satellite (GPS) devices, health and fitness devices and, to a lesser extent, eBooks. The percentage of survey respondents intending to purchase these devices rose, albeit from a relatively small base: basic mobile phones (increased from 6 percent to 10 percent), GPS (from 9 percent to 11 percent), health and fitness devices (from 7 percent to 9 percent) and eBooks (from 8 percent to 9 percent). But the functionality of even these devices is increasingly being integrated into multi-function products such as smartphones.
The survey also polled respondents on operating system preferences. It revealed a lack of loyalty to any single operating system for use on most multi-function devices. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) indicated they might consider purchasing a mobile or computing device with a different operating system. About one-fourth (24 percent) said they would consider a switch to “see what else is on the market”; 23 percent to “have a better user experience with another operating system”; and 23 percent to “get access to more innovative services and applications.”
“The lack of consumer commitment to any single platform offers numerous opportunities for electronics manufacturers,” added Lewren. “The platforms that offer a more intuitive user experience, and diverse and sticky applications with compatibility across devices, will be key to creating consumer loyalty in this four-horse race.”
In September 2012, Accenture conducted an online survey of 11,000 consumers in 11 countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Respondents were equally split by gender and were at least 18 years old.
The survey focused on consumer electronics devices including: basic mobile phones, digital video cameras, PCs (including desktops, laptops, netbooks and ultrabooks), digital photo cameras, BluRay DVD players, non-BluRay DVD players, digital video recorders (DVRs), eBook readers, game consoles, GPS devices, HDTVs, health and fitness devices, portable gaming devices, portable music players, regular TVs, smartphones, and tablet computers.