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Business Looking Better As 2nd Half Approaches

During a panel sponsored by Monster at CE Week in late June, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) president/CEO Gary Shapiro bluntly described the state of the CE industry in 2013: “The simple fact there’s only three growth categories: headphones, smartphones and tablets. You take those out, we’re actually in negative growth.”

But as you can see in our coverage of the panel starting on p. 6, Shapiro quickly added that Ultra High-Definition TV (or 4K if you prefer) is already in the market and “it’s just not the TV set.”

He noted it is an “ecosystem” that down the road will consist of camcorders, servers and maybe even prerecorded software, as the market really broadens by 2014 and 2015.

Shapiro also said that CEA Research shows that consumers are finally willing to pay for better sound to match the crystal- clear HD images they are seeing on their TVs today, and in the future.

The assembled media and bloggers who track the CE industry heard good news not just from CEA’s Shapiro, but just as importantly from retailers.

During the 2nd Screen Summit — produced by TWICE and our parent company NewBay Media and Media & Entertainment Services Alliance — retailers on a panel about smart TVs, which also discussed Ultra HD, reported strong sales so far this year for the top end of the market.

Tom Campbell of Video & Audio Center, Robert Zohn of Robert Zohn of Value Electronics, and Jeanette Howe of Specialty Electronics Nationwide, a division of Nationwide Marketing Group, were bullish on sales of big-screen smart TVs and Ultra HD sets.

But the retailers all cautioned that to sell smart TVs, Ultra HD TVs, and the second-screen experience with mobile products, the in-store demonstrations have to be cutting-edge to sell the experience, and not just the hardware.

Presentations at the CEA Research Summit held during CE Week demonstrated that the retail environment is changing radically. For instance, Best Buy, on the comeback trail, is testing branded departments nationwide (something that Video & Audio Center has done for a while); Amazon, Google and probably Walmart, will implement same-day deliveries from Internet sales sooner rather than later; and, if CEA Research is correct, consumers want more in-person interaction with sales associates before a major purchase.

Sure, price will always be a deciding factor in CE. Consumers and the industry have trained themselves that way.

But new technologies like Ultra HD and others coming soon after can be sold successfully by traditional CE retailers.

However that is only if — a big if — traditional CE retailers change and take advantage of social networking, mobile devices, and a ton of new strategies to interact more closely than ever before with new and existing customers.