By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Key TV additions at discount store giant Wal-Mart helped to shake up shelf-share positioning in key digital television categories during the month of May, according to a TV retail shelf-share intelligence report from Current Analysis West, an NPD Group company.
It was a big month for up-and-coming value-centric flat-panel TV manufacturer Vizio, which introduced four new LCD TV models (VW26L, VW32L, VW37L and VW42L) at Wal-Mart.
Vizio's LCD TV shelf share jumped from 1.8 percent in April to 5.9 percent in May with the move, Current Analysis said. At the same time, Wal-Mart dramatically increased its overall LCD TV assortment. Last month, the chain carried a total of 28 models from 10 manufacturers nationwide. That jumped to 36 LCD TV models from 11 vendors (with the addition of Vizio).
Current Analysis West said the increase resulted from a slew of new LCD TV releases from chain-brands Sanyo, Polaroid, Funai, iLO and Vizio.
"With its placements at Wal-Mart, Vizio will provide consumers with even more comparison shopping capital in their hunt for an HDTV," Current Analysis West observed.
Like Vizio, Westinghouse also saw a significant increase in its shelf share from April to May. The company rolled out five new LCD TV models with wide and diversified distribution at consumer electronic retailers, club stores, and mass retailers, Current Analysis said.
Shelf-share gains from Vizio and Westinghouse most impacted Samsung and Polaroid in the period, the analyst said. From March to April, Samsung gained 5.63 percentage points in shelf share, but then decreased 4.19 percentage points in May, for a shelf share of 12.15 percent for the current month.
Similarly, Polaroid's shelf share decreased by 2.41 percentage points in May, to land at 5.43 percent shelf share for the month.
Another point of interest in the month of May is LG's shelf share, which, at 3.84 percent, maintained the company's March-to-April gains.
During May, LG released four new LCD TVs. Current Analysis West said LG's "increase and maintenance of its LCD TV shelf-share numbers indicate a more diversified assortment strategy by LG, whose HDTV focus has previously been plasma-centric. Whereas LG's LCD TV shelf share has hovered around the 1.75 percent mark over the past year, its 3.55 percent shelf share in April signifies a shift in its HDTV strategy. LG latest LCD TV rollout is a continuation of this strategy."
Likewise, LG's increased shelf share provides the company with the leverage to provide both native 1080p flat-panel televisions and greater affordability, both of which are difficult to accomplish with plasma technology.
In the plasma category, Sanyo's introduction of its 50-inch DP50747 HD plasma set at Wal-Mart helped the manufacturer's presence share increase 4 percentage point month to month, to reach a plasma TV product placement share of 7.6 percent during the current period.
No. 1 Panasonic also experienced a shelf-share gain due to additional placements of its new releases — the TH-50PX77U, TH-50PZ700U and TH-58PZ700U — which are now available at Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, Tweeter and Sears. The manufacturer secured the top spot in plasma with 21.37 percent product-presence share in May 2007.
Current Analysis' Trendline study showed that the average sales prices of 50-inch plasma displays inflated by less than 1 percent from its April level, or an increase of $20 in the sales price of 50-inch sets.
This minor price increase trend reflects the higher price points of 1080p 50-inch plasma models released into the retail channel, Current Analysis West reports.
In comparison, the average selling price of a 42-inch plasma set continued to decline, dropping 4.8 percent month-over-month as LCD TVs continued to encroach into the 42-inch screen size with more aggressive prices.
The latest plasma products to appear in the U.S. retail channel this month were the TH-50PX77U, Th-50PZ700U and TH-58PZ700U from Panasonic.
In addition, Philips introduced a 42-inch plasma set, the 42PFP5332D, at Best Buy, BJ's Wholesale Club and Sam's Club, and Vizio released the VP50HDTV at Costco and Sam's Club during the current period.
In rear-projection TV product placements, Toshiba was among the most active brands during May, moving from seventh place in April to the sixth spot in May.
The move reflected a 3.33 percentage point gain in shelf share during the period, from the additions of model 50HM67 at Best Buy and the newly released 57HM167 at Sears.
Sony, Samsung and Mitsubishi maintained their respective first, second and third place rankings during May, Current Analysis said.
The overall average selling prices for rear-projection TVs continue to fall as a category, although prices of DLP units have been the most stable over the past year. Meanwhile, LCD-based models have seen the greatest year-over-year drop.
The average selling price of a DLP rear projection TV dropped from $2,586 in June 2006, to $2,261 in May 2007, marking a 13 percent decline over the past year.
Current Analysis West said the relatively small price erosion of DLP models resulted from the average screen size of DLP sets further expanding into the 65-inches-and-above segment, while the majority of other RPTV technologies stayed in the 60-inches-and-below ranges.
The report spotted a total of seven new rear-projection TVs this month from JVC, Samsung and Toshiba. JVC's 56-inch LCoS set, model HD-56FC97, debuted at Costco with at a $1,699 selling price.
In addition to Toshiba's 57HM167 at Sears, Samsung introduced five DLP models during the current period. All new releases feature full HD (1920 by 1080) native resolution.
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