CEA Study Shows CE Returns Are Consistent


Arlington, Va. - The rate of consumer electronics (CE) product returns has remained consistent over the past few years, according to new research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and ShowUhow.

In a report called

CE Products Returns: Understand Why They Occur and How to Reduce Them

study also found that most returns are exchanged for the same model and brand, CEA said.

The number of people who indicate they returned a CE device in the past two years was 27 percent in 2010-2011. One in five (18 percent) reported having returned a product in the past 12 months. Those findings are consistent with CEA's 2009

CE Products Return

study, which found 26 percent of consumers had returned a CE product in the prior two years and 16 percent had returned a product in the prior 12 months.

"While return rates remain consistent with previous studies, they still have a significant revenue impact on manufacturers, retailers and the entire industry," said Chris Ely, CEA's industry relations manager. "Education, either at the time of purchase or online before consumers get to the store, will help customers learn more about the product in advance and reduce the need for return, especially around the holidays."

The study found a number of reasons why consumers return their CE devices. The most common among consumers was that the device did not work as expected, followed by products breaking while in use. The least mentioned reasons for a return were missing parts and difficulty setting up the device.

Before consumers return a product, they turn to a variety of sources if they experience a problem with setting up or using the device. The user manual and quick start guides (76 percent) are the most commonly used. Family, friends and coworkers (65 percent) and manufacturer support lines (62 percent) are also frequently used by consumers before they return the product.

When returning a CE device, for whatever the reason, most consumers exchanged the product for the same make and model. Two-thirds (67 percent) of CE returns are exchanged for another product while one-quarter (27 percent) are returned for some form of monetary compensation such as store credit or reimbursement. The most popular exchange consumers make is for the same model and same brand (38 percent) followed by a different model, but the same brand (13 percent). Fewer than one in five consumers (17 percent) return a product for a different brand.

 "The most common reason for return is that consumers bring home a product and realize they were expecting something different," said Kim Folsom, CEO, ShowUhow, co-sponsor of the study. "To avoid costly product returns, ShowUhow works with leading manufacturers to help educate the consumer, both in pre-sale and installation." 

Co-sponsor of CEA's research study, ShowUhow's Video-based Product Guides enhance the consumer's "out-of-box" experience.


CE Product Returns: Understand Why They Occur and How to Reduce Them

study (November 2011) was conducted in September 2011. It was designed and formulated by CEA Market Research, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer electronics industry.

The complete report is available free to CEA member companies at


. Non-members may purchase the report for $699 at the

CEA Store



Related Articles