Mobile devices lead consumer electronics purchases

For the first time in the 15 years we’ve conducted this survey, the top 4 products making headway in U.S. households are mobile devices. - Kevin Tillmann, senior research analystTablets, smartphones, e-readers, and wireless hot spots jumped in household penetration rates over the past year, with overall spending on consumer electronics up 36% for households, according to the 15th annual household survey of the Consumer Electronics Association. The following household penetration rates were observed:
  • 58% for smart phones
  • 39% for tablets, up from 22% in 2012
  • 29% for e-readers, up from 19% in 2012
  • 21% for wireless mobile hotspot devices, up from 11% in 2012
When it comes to TV household penetration rates:
  • 98% ownership of televisions
  • 74% ownership of HDTV
  • 61% ownership of LCD TVs
  • 15% ownership of Internet-enabled TVs, up from 9% in 2012

Households owning DVD players decreased by 4 percentage points in 2012, while ownership of Blu-ray disc players increased by 5 percentage points. Households are continuing to replace DVD players with Blu-ray disc players for the improvement in picture quality on their HDTV sets.

Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 2,026 U.S. adults on behalf of the Consumer Electronics Association. The telephone survey was fielded from January 25 to February 4, 2013. The survey results were weighted by gender, age, race, and region: 1,323 interviews were from the landline sample and 703 interviews were from the cell phone sample. Based on a Researchscape assessment of the questionnaire and methodology, this survey is very likely to be representative of U.S. consumers in general.

Nearly 43 million U.S. households (36%) subscribe to video rental and streaming services, and another 15% of households said they expected to subscribe to at least one of these services in the year ahead. Video subscription services are expected to continue to grow as these services evolve.

Internet phone, digital file back-up, and music subscription services all experienced 5 percentage point increases over 2012 levels.

Top Planned CE Purchases

In terms of anticipated purchases over the next year:
  • 33% of consumers plan to purchase headphones
  • 29% said they plan to buy smartphones
  • 22% plan to buy notebook/laptop/netbook computers
  • 21% plan to buy tablets
  • 20% plan to buy HDTVs

Overall CE Spending

CE spending over the past 12 months is up considerably for both individuals and households. On average, U.S. adults reported spending $746 on CE products, a 35% increase over the prior year, while the average American household spent $1,312, an increase of 36%. Spending increased most dramatically for adults ages 25-34, up 62% from 2012 levels to $1,171.

The complete study is available for free for CEA member companies at members.CE.org. Non-members may purchase the study for $1,200 at the CEA Store.

For more information on this survey, refer to 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study.


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