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'Groupon Effect' On Tap For Black Friday; Customizing Is King For CES

11/21/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — Black Friday is not only
approaching, it’s already begun. In fact, if
you go by the retailers’ ads, it never really
ended last year.

The Consumer Electronics Association’s
Steve Koenig, industry analysis
director, and Shawn DuBravac, chief
economist and research director, addressed
a crowd
at the annual CES
Unveiled, held here
earlier this month,
detailing the trends
expected for the
2011 holiday season
and the 2012
International CES.

“Why waste Cyber
Monday on a
single day when
you can make it an
entire week?” Du-
Bravac said. Retailers
have turned
Black Friday and
Cyber Monday into
promotional terms
that can be used throughout the entire
year, and retailers such as Amazon are
dedicating entire sites to them as the traditional
Black Friday approaches.

The Groupon Effect, as CEA called it,
has spurred a deal-a-day mentality that
keeps consumers going back to sites to
see what discounts are going on. As a result,
“consumers are pushing their shopping
to later in the season and moving
from September and October to November
and December. They’re looking to see
if those deals show up,” DuBravac said.

The return to layaway, on the other
hand, aims to pull purchases forward,
as retailers try to get consumers to pick
their purchases now.

Midnight is now the new 5 a.m., with
Best Buy and Macy’s joining Toys “R”
Us in opening on Thanksgiving instead
of the wee hours on the day after. Koenig
quipped, “Why sleep when you can
shop?” This could result in late-season
shoppers being forced to choose from
what’s left instead of what’s cheap, as
inventory is eaten up by the early birds.

DuBravac and Koenig also presented
what CEA expects to be the five trends
of the 2012 International CES. The dichotomy
between computing topped
the list, as manufacturers struggle between
loading devices with more computing
power, and stripping these devices
of their power to simplify them.
Ultrabooks are anticipated to be a popular
introduction,
with more than 30
models launched
at the show.

The customizable
experience will
also play a prominent
role at this
year’s show, with
OEMs increasingly
delivering customizable
hardware
and services, Koenig
explained. Consumers
now look to
see what services
come with their devices
before they
buy them, instead
of just looking at the devices themselves.

“It’s very much becoming not just
about these vessels, but also the services
and accessories that go with them,”
Koenig said.

It will also be the year of the interface
at CES, as technology moves from
“birth to complication to simplification
to natural.”

The final two trends involved car electronics,
with one anticipating the return
of the aftermarket, and the other seeing
rear-seat entertainment changing channels,
from high-end headrests to entrylevel
iPad brackets.

The pair also focused on what trends
are expected to be seen in the TV category
at CES 2012, and 4k by 2k was
cited as one example, followed by thin
bezels, OLED and 3D.

DuBravac cautioned against counting
out 3D technology, noting that its current
form is in a hybrid state and still evolving.
“Think of some of these products as hybrids
… they’re stepping stones to what
lies ahead,” he said.

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