Thursday, October 18, 2012 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Holiday Sales of Consumer Electronics Expected to Rise Slightly
Shoppers plan to spend about $252 on consumer electronics this holiday season, a 2.4% increase from last year's $246, according to the Consumer Electronics Association's CEA's 19th annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study, released at the association's Industry Forum in San Francisco this week.
Overall, consumers plan to spend $1,634 this holiday, up 11 percent from last year, with about $842 of that budget going towards gifts, a 9 percent increase from last year. About 76 percent of adults plan to give a CE product as a gift.
"I think it's a commentary that consumers have the money to spend," said Steve Koenig, CEA's director of industry analysis, adding that the overall increase in holiday spending shows that consumer confidence in the economy is increasing.
After the holiday season and well into 2013, though, expect consumers to pull back on CE spending, said Shawn Dubravac, CEA's chief economist and senior director of research, adding that retailers will also limit restocking. "There's still a tremendous amount of strain on the economy," he said.
Among those consumers planning to purchase TVs, 76% of U.S. adults plan to buy an LED TV as a gift, flat with last year; 72% plan to buy an LCD, down from 80%; and 45% plan to buy a plasma, down from 55%. The trend toward larger screens will carry over into the holidays, with 72% of consumers planning to buy a set over 40 inches, up from 65% last year; while 48% are looking at sets smaller than 40 inches, down from 54%.
About 63% are thinking about giving an Internet-connected set as a gift, up from 51%, while 45% want to gift a 3D set, up from 28%. For the first time, units shipped of LCD TVs 60 inches and over this year will surpass the sale of LCDs 20 inches and under.
Of those consumers planning to gift some type of audio product this year, 22% will be going with MP3 players, down from 27%; 15% with a wireless multi-room distribution system; 10% with an AVR, and 7% with a soundbar.
Sales of gaming devices will shrink this season, with 18% planning to gift a game console (down from 22%) and 15% going with a portable game console (down from 20%). Blame mobile devices for much of that decline. About 24% of consumers will gift a smartphone, tablet or MP3 player to be used primarily as a gaming device.
Expect robust sales of accessories this season, with 59% of adults expecting to gift something from that category, with 29% going with headphones, 24% with memory, 29% with cases, and 12% with any CE fitness device.
WHERE WILL THEY SHOP?
About 64% of adults will head to a mass merchant, 59% to a CE specialty retailer, 33% to a warehouse club (down from 40%) and 46% will go online for their holiday purchases. All those numbers are close to what they were last year.
While showrooming is one of the hottest retail topics this year, the same amount of shoppers this year (41%) as last plan to compare prices in brick-and-mortar stores on their cell phones. More comparison tools and apps, though, are available this year.
Door-buster deals and other targeted sales will of course be a big part of the shopping season, but opening price points on most consumer products will not drop by much.
"I don't think opening price points will have the same 'wow' factor as in previous years," Dubravac said. "Consumers are definitely looking for bargains, but they're not expecting big drops. They'll gravitate to the products they want."
Here's a look at some of the other key findings from this year's survey.
(Source: Dealerscope, 10/16/12)
- Men, younger consumers and those households with children are predicted to be the biggest purchasers of CE products this holiday season.
- The top recipient of CE gifts will be children, as almost half of U.S. adults (45 percent) plan to give them a CE device. About one in three consumers will purchase CE for themselves (31 percent) or their spouse/significant other (34 percent) and one in five plan to purchase CE devices for their parents (22 percent).
- It's probably no surprise that 16% of consumers want a tablet as a gift, while 10% want any type of TV, 8% want any type of cell phone, 7% want a laptop and 4% want an e-reader.
- Among those who want a tablet, 57% are women and 43% are men.
- As far as what consumers intend to give, smartphones lead the way at 29%, up from 21% last year, tablets at 27% and laptops at 25%. DVD/Blu-ray players come in at 25% and MP3 players at 22%, down from 27% last year. About 20% of U.S. adults expect to give TVs, video game consoles, e- readers and external storage devices.
- 77% of U.S. adults plan to give gift cards, with 50% for mass merchants, 40% for department stores, and 27% for electronics stores.
- Uptake of smartphones and tablets has led consumers to consider content and services as potential gifts. 26% plan to give gift cards, which can be used for digital music, 20% electronic book purchases, 16% app purchases, 15% online gaming purchases and 13% digital movie/TV show purchases.
- 26% of consumers plan to begin their shopping between Thanksgiving and the end of November. Only 16% began their holiday shopping in September or earlier, while 25% plan to wait until December.
- 71% of consumers expect to visit brick-and-mortar stores to get hands-on experience with CE products.
- 66% will compare prices for electronics products online before buying. 41% will use a mobile device to compare prices while in a store and 28% will search for promotions on social networking sites.
||Report: Restaurant Menu Price Matters Most to Middle-Income Customers
For middle-income consumers, low prices are the most important factor -- more so than convenient location, fast service, and order accuracy -- when it comes to deciding which limited-service, dine-in restaurants to patronize, wrote Technomic, Inc. Editor Aimee Harvey in a recent blog post.
The post was based Technomic's "The Influence of Income Consumer Trend Report," which examined 2,000 consumers from four economic groups -- working, lower middle, upper middle, and affluent -- and analyzed their attitudes about dining out. The study showed that middle-income consumers, which made up 50 percent of the 2,000 individuals surveyed, are sometimes still clutching their pocketbooks despite the softening recession.
The report also found that more traditional health claims, such as low calorie or fat free, were appealing to upper-middle consumers, Harvey wrote.
Middle-income consumers are important because they make up the biggest segment of the restaurant-going population, said Sara Monnette, director of consumer research at Technomic. "They're not the heaviest patrons of restaurants -- those are the affluent consumers," she said. "But they're very important because of their size."
According to Harvey’s post, 71 percent of upper-middle consumers said they use restaurants as social venues to catch up with friends and family. "It's all about atmosphere," Harvey wrote of the middle-income group. "Restaurants and/or bar areas with an energetic and fun 'gathering place' feel can be a draw for this base."
The middle-income group as a whole also expressed a desire to dine out more often than they currently do, which may explain why low cost is a high priority.
Restaurant chains from the full-service category are apparently already responding to these middle-income consumer desires. Red Lobster, for example, will include more items that cost fewer than $15 on its new core menu, which launched Oct. 15, in an attempt to get customers to come in to restaurants more often, said Red Lobster Executive Chef Michael LaDuke.
Outback Steakhouse, Applebee's, and Chili's offer bundled meals, which offer customers multiple courses for a fixed price. The goal of these types of promotions is to drive traffic into restaurants, despite the state of the economy, restaurant officials have noted.
In the Technomic report, "lower middle" income is defined as consumers with an annual household income of $45,000-$74,999, and "upper middle" income is defined as having a household income of $85,000-$104,999. "Working" was defined as those having a household income lower than $44,999 annually. "Affluent," Technomic's highest-income group in the report, was defined as consumers with a household income of more than $105,000. Cost of living and household size were also taken into account when grouping the consumers surveyed, Monnette said.
"Getting more granular into consumer behavior is increasingly important because there are so many different options out there," Monnette said. "Everyone's trying to carve out their niche.
"The more they know about the customers they're trying to target, the more successful they're going to be."
(Source: Nation's Restaurant News, 10/05/12)
||Heating Costs Could Chill Homeowners This Winter
Americans will pay more to heat their homes this winter as they feel something they didn't feel much of last year: cold.
Prices for natural gas, heating oil and other fuels will be relatively stable. But customers will have to use more energy to keep warm than they did a year ago, according to the annual Winter Fuels Outlook from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration.
Last winter was the warmest on record. This year temperatures are expected to be close to normal.
Heating bills will rise 20 percent for heating oil customers, 15 percent for natural gas customers, 13 percent for propane customers and 5 percent for electricity customers, the EIA announced last week.
Heating oil customers are expected to pay an average of $3.80 per gallon, the highest price ever. That will result in record heating bills, at an average of $2,494. That's nearly $200 more than the previous high, set in the winter of 2010-2011.
"It's two different worlds. For most families this is still going to be an affordable year, except for those who use oil heat," says Mark Wolfe, the Executive Director of the National Energy Assistance Director's Association. "For them, it's going to be very difficult."
Just 6 percent of the nation's households use heating oil, but they tend to be in some of the coldest parts of the country where heating needs are high, mainly in the Northeast. About half use natural gas for heat and 38 percent use electricity. Five percent of households use propane and 2 percent use wood.
Electricity prices will fall 2.3 percent to 11.4 cents per kilowatt hour, the government estimates. Propane prices will fall 8 percent in the Midwest to $2.02 per gallon and 13 percent in the Northeast to $2.95 per gallon.
Natural gas, propane and electricity prices are relatively low because of a dramatic increase in domestic natural gas production over the last five years. Natural gas is used to generate about one-third of the nation's electricity and is instrumental in setting the price of electricity. Recently drillers have been increasing production of so-called natural gas liquids, including propane.
(Source: The Associated Press, 10/12/12)
Daily Sales Tip: Your Attitude
Attitude is the "advance man" of our true selves. Its roots are inward, based on past experiences, but its fruit is outward. It is our best friend, or our worst enemy. It is more honest and more consistent than our words. It is a thing which draws people to us, or repels us. It is never content until it is expressed. It is the librarian of our past, the speaker of our present and the prophet of our future. Yet, your attitude is under whose control?
Your attitude is 100 percent under your control! There are a lot of things in life that we have no control over. For example, there is absolutely nothing we can do about how prospects react to us or our products and services. All we can do is control the way we react. Yet, so many salespeople let the prospect's reaction determine their outlook for the day. Think about it, are you as positive, upbeat and driven on a day full of rejection as you would be on a highly successful day?
How do you react to negative prospects? Do you walk away discouraged and complain about it or do you take control, stay focused and go on to the next call? Success is based on good judgment, and that is based on experience. And the only way one can gain experience is through failure. Isn't sales a numbers game? We have to fail often to succeed once. This is all about attitude.
How you react, how you think, what you say to yourself or what you believe about yourself is all under your control and comes out in your attitude. You must first realize that your attitude is 100 percent under your control and learn to reflect, confirm and take hold of your attitude. You must take hold of your attitude towards yourself, overcome fear and be able to deal with rejection in order to increase your productivity while saving time and money.
What is your attitude towards your organization, its team players and products and services? Do you have an owner's mentality? If so, what would you do differently? Now, why are you not doing it? You have to address these issues and have a strong belief before you can move on.
What is your attitude towards the market that you represent? Do you have a clear, full-color picture of your ideal prospect? Do you know your competition and their strengths and weaknesses? If you don't, is it fair to say that you don't know what you are doing?
If you don't believe in:
-- The organization that you represent, its team, products and services and
-- The market that you are selling in; move on and find something you do believe in.
How could you convince anyone else to believe in something that you yourself don't believe in?
Source: Sales speaker/author Bob Urichuck