Playoff TV Sales Show Mixed Results

By Greg Tarr On Feb 13 2012 - 6:01am




NEW YORK — For many, Super Bowl XLVI proved to be a successful selling event for the struggling industry as manufacturer- and retailer-driven promotions offered big-screen bargains that almost rivaled the aggressive promotions of the just-passed holidays, analysts and vendors said.

But despite a number of significant bargains, results were mixed among brands and retail accounts in the weeks immediately prior to Super Bowl week.

“The period right before the Super Bowl is the perfect time for both retailers and consumers in the TV space, with heavy discounts making television sets more affordable, resulting in a boost in sales,” said Tom Morrod, head of TV technology at IHS Screen Digest. “Because of the decline in TV prices, consumers have been able to replace their 32-inch TVs with 40-inchand- larger sets that include advanced features, such as FullHD, 120Hz and even Internet capability.”

Where the 2011 holiday selling season generated tonnage in impulse buys of small- and mid-screen-size TVs, the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl period a few weeks later generally generates more volume in bigscreen business, IHS said, when in early 2012, “holiday bonuses and tax returns” are fresh in the minds of many Americans.

MarketStar, an analyst of outsourced sales and marketing trends, reported that during the playoff weeks this year, “TV sales for one major retailer in 2011 increased by 15.2 percent, in comparison to average daily sales, where people are buying larger TVs and spending on average more money on TVs during the Super Bowl.”

“But compared with last year’s playoffs, fewer large TVs are being sold this year, while midsized TV” sales grow.

MarketStar found that in playoff weeks sales of 32-inch sets were up 4.5 percent (representing 28.4 percent of all TV sales) and 37- to 45-inch sets were up 4.1 percent (representing 25.7 percent of sales), while sales of 46- to 54-inch screen sizes dropped 4.8 percent (representing 15.3 percent of sales), 55-inch sizes dropped 1.7 percent (representing 11.2 percent of sales) and small TVs (less than 32 inches) dropped 3.1 percent (representing 18.4 percent of sales).

Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research principal, said sales results among TV manufacturers was mixed in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl week.

“The run-up was not great for several manufacturers the week prior [to Super Bowl week],” Pratt told TWICE. “One in particular said they were trying to sell step products at 46 and 55 inches and it was sluggish the Monday before” the big game.

MarketStar said top markets for sales activity during the playoff weeks included the following: Boynton Beach, Naples, St. Petersburg, Aventura, Fort Myers and Sarasota, Fla.; Concord Pike, Del.; Galleria and Corpus Christi, Texas; Salem, N.H.; Albany, Brooklyn and Long Island City, N.Y.; Emeryville, San Francisco, Santa Rosa and West Hollywood, Calif.; Nashua, N.H.; Greensboro, N.C.; and St. Matthews, Ky.

Ben Arnold, NPD Group industry analyst, said Super Bowl week generated a carryover in trends “both in consumers wanting to upgrade their primary displays and in consumers looking to get more TV for their dollar.”

Arnold said NPD’s point-of-sales data was not ready for the Super Bowl week as this went to press, but the firm estimated sales to be “up consistent with last year — probably 10 to 15 percent above Super Bowl week 2011, and with a lot of activity in the 50-inch-and-up screens.”

Among some of the more aggressive promotions over the pre-Super Bowl weeks, according to IHS’s Morrod, was Walmart’s Vizio 42-inch 1080p/60Hz LCD TVs at $448 and $50 more for 120Hz version, and Best Buy’s premium-featured TVs at sizes ranging from 46 to 70 inches from Samsung, Panasonic and Sharp.

Morrod said the big-box retailer discounted TV prices on some models from those leading brands by 30 to 40 percent.

“Larger screen sizes unquestionably are being promoted harder than ever before as retailers hope to cash in on the sales of higher-priced items and the increasing availability of 50-inch sets,” he offered.

Among the more successful brands reporting in were the following:

LG Electronics’ home A/V entertainment senior VP Jay Vandenbree told TWICE that LG’s business vs. the prior year “was up double digits” during the Super Bowl sales period, especially in larger screen sizes 47 and 55 inches and in LED product. He said LG didn’t have a lot of closeout product in the marketplace because it “had managed dealers’ inventory pretty tightly, and we saw a lot of the aggressive promotions out at retail and watched that. Frankly, we found customers migrated to the things we had been talking about all year, and that’s a great indication that consumers are still interested in quality.”

Vandenbree said that LG’s Cinema3D and smart-TV feature sets resonated with consumers, despite the absence of 3D coverage and no real promoting around Super Bowlrelated TV apps.

Samsung’s home entertainment marketing senior VP Joe Stinziano told TWICE that the company’s top-performing models this year “were step-up models, including our D7000 and D8000 LED and PDP models, which are available in sizes up to 65 inches.”

“Based on the data we have so far, we know dealers in some markets did better than last year, since sales were impacted last year by a big snowstorm that hit the East Coast the week before the Super Bowl. Of course, those dealers in markets with teams in the game fared better,” he said.

Stinziano said that while Samsung did not offer any manufacturing directed financing programs during the period, it did offer “more attractive offers to consumers,” this year.

For Mitsubishi, sales from Super Bowl week were still being tabulated on its DLP rear-projection TVs as this went to press, but marketing VP Frank DeMartin told TWICE that for the weeks of Jan. 13-28, when the company started its promotion on 82- and 92-inch models, “we saw a nice uptick in sales at retail for all screen sizes.”

The 73-inch DLP rear-projection set was up more than 10 percent vs. the same time last year, and the 82-inch was up almost 30 percent in unit sales, he said. The 92- inch also did well, “but there is no comparison to last year since this is our first year of sales for this screen size.”

The 82- and 92-inch models were eligible for large instant rebates from Jan. 13 through Feb. 6.

“We found that retailers that promoted our product aggressively during the Super Bowl period did quite well. [Also] online sales were a larger portion of our mix this year than last.”

DeMartin said Mitsubishi also saw strong results from the rent-to-own channel this playoff season. Aaron’s ran a TV spot from November through February highlighting the company’s 73-inch DLP at a $99 per month lease, “and lease-through results have been very good,” DeMartin observed.

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