Mobile Devices Lead Consumer Electronics Purchases, Overall CE Category Strong: CEA

Mobile Devices Lead Consumer Electronics Purchases, Overall CE Category Strong: CEA


Arlington, VA—U.S. Consumers’ desire for mobility and connectivity is bolstering sales of tablets, smartphones, e-readers and wireless mobile hotspots, according to a study released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The study, 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study, also found that “consumer electronics (CE) spending is up for individuals (35%) and households (36%) over the last 12 months.

CEA’s annual study explored U.S. household ownership and market potential for several CE products, including HDTVs, LCD TVs, Blu-ray disc players, MP3 players, gaming consoles, smartphones, laptop computers, tablet computers, e-readers, surround sound systems and sound bars.

Mobile Devices
In particular, sales of tablet computers are driving growth in the CE industry. According to the report, household penetration of tablets rose 17% year over year. Also showing strong growth in household penetration rates are smartphones (12%), e-readers (10%) and wireless mobile hotspots (10%).

“For the first time in the 15 years we’ve conducted this survey, the top four products making headway in U.S. households are mobile devices,” said Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst, Market Research, CEA. “We’re seeing overall household penetration rates for smartphones and tablets at 58% and 39% respectively, and we expect they will continue to dominate the marketplace in the coming year.”

Smartphone sales remain strong, with 69 million U.S. households now owning a smartphone, and as a result, basic cell phone (non-smartphone) ownership is steadily declining.

E-reader ownership increased from 19% in 2012 to 29% in 2013, and wireless mobile hotspot devices nearly doubled in ownership from 11% in 2012 to 21% in 2013. The study also noted that televisions are the most universally owned CE devices, with 98% of U.S. households owning at least one TV. In the last year, Internet-enabled TVs experienced a six-point increase in household penetration rates.

Top Planned CE Purchases

The CEA study also looked at planned CE purchases over the next, concluding: “the mobility trend continues; 29% of consumers said they plan to buy smartphones, second only to the 33% who indicated that they were planning to purchase headphones. Other planned purchases include notebook/laptop/netbook computers (22%), tablets (21%) and HDTVs (20 %).

Overall, CEA found that CE spending over the past 12 months is up dramatically 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%.”

In demographic terms, spending increased most noticeably for adults between the ages of 25 to 34—a rise of 62% from 2012 levels to $1,171.

“Several factors are contributing to an increase in consumer spending. Unemployment numbers are declining. And prices are falling across several CE product categories as competition increases within these market segments,” added Tillmann. “This bodes well for consumers, affording them the opportunity to purchase more products and upgrade with greater frequency.”

The 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study (April 2013) was conducted between January 25–28 and February 1–4, 2013.