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Study Shows Price Still Tops In Buying TVs

3/25/2008 11:41:00 AM Eastern

El Segundo, Calif. — It is no surprise price is still the leading factor for U.S. consumers when buying TVs at retail, but product selection and store location are also important.

Those are two of the conclusions of an iSuppli study based on its ConsumerTrak service, which surveyed 15,000 U.S. households during the fourth quarter.

More U.S. consumers buy their televisions at traditional consumer electronics chain stores than at any other type of retailer or on the Internet. In addition, consumers do consider a range of factors when selecting a retailer for their television purchases — factors that vary in importance depending on income level, according to the study.

Price was the main reason cited by 59.6 percent of television buyers with incomes less than $25,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007. Consumers with incomes ranging from $100,000 to $149,000 placed an even greater emphasis on price, with 63.1 percent citing that as the main reason they shopped for televisions at a specific retailer.

For upper-income-band consumers, the next most-important factor after price was a large selection of televisions available at the store, with 14.7 percent citing this as their main selection criterion. For those consumers making less than $25,000, store location was the second biggest factor, with 15.5 percent citing this issue.

The survey showed the digital TV transition is spurring sales. “With the imminent transition to digital television (DTV) broadcasting in the United States and heightened consumer interest in flat-panel TVs, retailers of all types — including major consumer electronics chains, warehouse clubs, discount department stores and online services — are boosting their lineup of flat panels in an attempt to get a piece of this $100 billion industry,” said Tina Tseng, an analyst covering consumer electronics channels at iSuppli.

“iSuppli believes that in this environment of fierce competition, such retailers can successfully address the influences guiding TV buyers’ purchasing decisions that are the ones likely to increase customer traffic and to grow market share,” Tseng added.

More than 40 percent of U.S. consumers in the fourth quarter purchased their TV from traditional consumer electronics chain stores, followed by department discount stores, which accounted for 23 percent of total television purchases.

One factor influencing consumer decisions on where to purchase a television is the increasing ease of online research to find the lowest prices. This favors retailers that have a stronger presence on the Web, the survey showed.

While still trailing their purchases from retailers, increasing numbers of consumers are buying televisions online, with 18 percent of those surveyed indicating they had purchased their sets on the Internet.

iSuppli’s survey also revealed that the highest-ranking retailers scored well in terms of customer service and staff helpfulness. With thinning retail gross margins, retailers could appeal to consumers not only by keeping their prices competitive, but also by offering superior service and staffing with better-trained personnel than their competitors.

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