TWICE: What new product categories — either new technologies or “new” for different retail channels — will be popular this year?
Fred Towns, Synnex’s New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games divisions: Mobility products continue to be very hot right now as consumers are trying to expand how they use them — from tablets, smartphones with larger screens, and Bluetooth- enabled accessory units like headphones and keyboards, to other devices that control different functions within their homes.
Dennis Holzer, PowerHouse Alliance: We are seeing a huge increase in IT and related products sales. As more and more products are released that require Wi-Fi to function, the need for better switchers and routers, signal boosters, increased remote access point products and related accessories are selling very well. I think this category will show a significant increase throughout the year and could be the surprise sales category.
Warren Chaiken, Almo: With the continued growth in social media and mobile communications, headphones, tablets and cellphones will be important categories for this year. Headphones in particular are becoming a style trend and status symbol — this category is very hot right now. We are also seeing continued expansion of online retailer initiatives in both new stores and non-traditional categories.
Jerry Satoren, DSI Systems: Well, certainly Ultra HD and OLED will be very popular this year across all retail channels. Clearly in the TV/appliance dealer world, these items along with any item that goes in the home, comes in a really big box, and needs delivery and installation is a candidate.
Most of these dealers are looking at bedding and furniture. Both offer dealers products that make for an involved purchase for the consumer, not easily cross-shopped and provide significant profit margin. I expect that more dealers will enter these categories in 2013 with bedding being the easier of the two to get started.
Another growing category that seems to be picking up steam in our channel is electric fireplaces. Many of these configurations are set up with the fireplace insert (including heater and blower) in an elegant TV cabinet or credenza. A great way for a dealer to show another “TV stand” option that also carries very big retail profit margins.
Jeff Davis, D&H Distributing: Tablets and mobile devices are driving the highest growth, as has been the ongoing trend. Convertible units are selling well. The latest Ultrabook models set to hit the market appear to be attractive and more affordable. Technology DIY products are also gaining great interest, such as do-it-yourself all-in-one computers that can be created to the customer’s specifications.
Wally Whinna, Allnet Distributing, (Catalyst AV member): Ever-increasing wireless traffic in the home will create a greater demand for managed switches and higher quality solutions. Enterprise-grade network products should increase the price points of access points, switches and router.
Tim Coakley Ingram Micro Consumer Electronics: Outdoor related electronics are popular, such as outdoor cameras, GPS, two-way radio and marine products [and] personal-care- oriented products [in health and fitness]. Multi-platform components, enabling sharing content between multiple devices (smartphones, tablets, PC/computer, home A/V) will also be popular.
Rick Sanchez, SED International: Audiophile-quality Bluetooth speakers by Nyne have been a popular new growth category for SED. Nyne has a portable inexpensive quality solution as well as a higher-end, guitar amp compatible whole-room solution for a media room, playroom or dorm. Go-Pro-style cameras are also a growth category.
Bill Stewart, Petra Industries: New technology in the wireless category for protection, connectivity and power, especially for Apple and Android devices, will be extremely popular and drive business in 2013. Wireless HQ by Petra, our wireless division, delivers the latest wireless accessories such as cases, headsets, portable power, speakers and hands-free headsets from the top manufacturers to meet the demands of this ever-expanding market.