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Mobile Phone Cases Power Up Accessories Sales

Port Washington, N.Y. – Mobile phone cases are the most popular comsumer electronics accessory, according to a new study by The NPD Group, and they powered the mobile accessories category to a 32 percent increase in revenue growth in the first half of 2012, compared with the same period last year.

Revenues from phone cases grew 69 percent over the prior year, edging out stereo headphones with microphones, which grew 67 percent, as the fastest-growing mobile accessories category. In addition, average prices for cases rose 25 percent year over year.

According to NPD’s “Mobile Phone Accessories Attach Rate Study,” recent mobile phone case buyers cited protection and durability (86 percent) as the top purchase influencers, followed by quality materials (73 percent) and minimal bulkiness (66 percent). Aesthetics and price play a lesser role in the purchasing decision, with just less than half of recent case buyers considering these attributes important.

“Smartphones tend to feature slim designs and glass materials, so protection accessories have become a virtual necessity to safeguard smartphone owners’ investments,” said Ben Arnold, NPD’s industry analysis director. “Price holds less importance than protection on the list of purchase influencers, and consumer concern over the quality of materials indicates the performance of these accessories is more important than their aesthetics or cost.”

Nearly half of all consumers who bought their phones in-store attached an accessory at the time of purchase. In-store buyers also tended to spend more on add-ons at the time of their purchases, spending nearly three times as much as those who acquired their phones in online or over-the-phone channels.

Even so, many mobile phone retailers are missing out on a significant amount of accessory revenues that eventually take place after a consumer leaves the store or website with their newly purchased phone, NPD said. Among those mobile phone buyers who bought accessories within the first six months after the original phone transaction, four out of five reported visiting a different retailer from their mobile phone seller to make these aftermarket accessory purchases.

“With the consumer’s focus on lower prices and wide product assortment, online retailers like Amazon and eBay are emerging as leading choices for aftermarket accessory purchases,” Arnold said. “It is imperative that mobile-phone retailers capitalize on the initial phone transaction, in order to keep more accessory buying within their doors.”

The study is based on surveys of more than 2,200 members of NPD’s online panel, aged 18 and older.

The full report is available for purchase at