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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

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

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