In the past five years, Accenture’s Consumer Electronics Study has researched consumers’ preferences for technologies and services. As innovations in technology continue, it doesn’t appear that consumers’ affection for technology will fade anytime soon. With mobility as the latest trend in consumer technology, hardware and content providers enjoy a booming market that shows no signs of slowing down, at least in the foreseeable future.
Accenture’s 2012 survey of more than 10,000 consumers across 10 countries shows consumers are making their networked lives more robust. They are connecting in more than one way and on multiple devices, consuming more content, and doing it all on the go. Specifically, this research has identified 5 trends for manufacturers and service providers to consider as consumers strive to be always connected. Below I will discuss three trends of these trends in more detail.
Smart and Mobile
Consumers are adopting mobile technology so rapidly that the mobility trend is in hyperdrive. While consumers still have strong ownership and usage of desktop or laptop computers (90 percent own them), purchase intentions for computers are slowly declining. At the same time, smartphone and tablet PC ownership are rising steeply. In fact, in the past 12 months, the percentage point increase in smartphone and tablet PC purchases almost equals the purchase decrease of computers and mobile feature phones.
Intentions to purchase tablets in the next 12 months have doubled from last year—the largest relative gain among the 19 technologies surveyed. Interestingly, as consumers buy highly mobile tablets, they increasingly view their laptop PC as a more stationary device.
Globalization and shifting purchase pattern
Emerging markets in aggregate show a continued thirst for the latest technologies, as they lead the growth in ownership and purchase intent for many newer types of devices. Consumers in urban areas of emerging markets have spent a greater percentage of their annual income on consumer electronics devices in the past 12 months than have those in mature markets.
For instance, 75 percent of urban South Africans own smartphones, compared with 20 percent of consumers in Japan. While demand for smartphones is certainly strong in South Africa, Russia had the greatest growth in ownership year-over-year, reporting 34 percent growth in those who own smartphones since 2010.
Multichannel Purchasing Is Preferred
While consumer electronics retailers remain the dominant choice for purchasing new devices, other channels have made significant inroads in the past years. 56 percent of consumers made purchases only in a physical retail channel last year, compared with 20 percent who purchased only from an online channel (24 percent bought from both). Just over half (51 percent) of consumers making purchases last year, did so at a consumer electronics retailer’s store. The consumer electronics retail store is highly favored for purchases in Russia, Japan and China—in these countries, more than 60 percent of those making purchases chose electronics retailers for their purchases.
While the desire to test and touch products remains a strong influence on where consumers purchase new technologies, a multichannel experience ultimately drives greater sales success. Numerous studies have shown that even if consumers ultimately buy products in a store, many research products online prior to making their in-store purchases.
The movement to mobility is at full throttle. Consumers around the world are striving to get and stay connected wherever they are via mobile technologies as smartphones and tablets are the “power players” in technology growth rates, helping consumers use their virtual network to access a growing portfolio of content, services and apps.
The era of hypermobility has numerous implications for consumer electronics companies as they work to capture their target customers. As consumers connect in multiple ways across multiple devices, and consume more content, consumer electronics providers are challenged to keep pace. Leading providers will need to combine continual innovations in products, cloud services and application offerings with sophisticated targeting of profitable consumer segments to win the hearts and wallets of today’s hypermobile consumers.