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Consumer Electronics Market Research & Business Solutions

In home, the car, and the office – consumer electronics are used everywhere, all the time. The devices consumers use are changing rapidly, as are consumers’ preferences. The features they want are converging. And it’s all happening in the midst of some of the highest device-ownership levels we’ve ever seen. To top it off, this is occurring in a mature market.

How do you make sense of it all and drive growth for your business? NPD has been tracking and analyzing trends in the consumer electronics market for more than 25 years, offering both retail and consumer information for all channels, including the Web. You can use this information to understand the rapidly-evolving product landscape and consumer electronics trends at the national and local market levels.

Beyond market measurement, we combine our robust data assets and industry expertise -- including your own data or third-party data, as needed -- to address specific issues at each phase of your business cycle from opportunity identification to marketing evaluation and pricing optimization.


Retail Tracking

The Retail Tracking Service monitors retail sales of consumer technology products. Data provided by our participating channel partners delivers a detailed picture of product movement down to the item level. National information is available weekly and monthly; local market information is available monthly.

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Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking

Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking complements our national Retail Tracking Service– it can help you determine whether sales are distribution-driven or whether certain parts of the country are contributing more to national share or driving growth. The velocity measure set that is part of Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking takes into consideration sales volume (Annualized Industry Volume or AIV) rather than considering store count alone, for a more meaningful read on where products are selling and how they are performing.

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Account Level Reports

These reports enable retailers who choose this option to share their information with approved vendors, allowing vendors to analyze business performance at specific retailers down to the item level in many instances. By making this report available to their vendors, retailers can work together with them to optimize performance. These reports may only be made available with the express permission of the retailer.

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Consumer Tracking

Explore comprehensive market research on consumer behavior and attitudes across a wide array of industry sectors. This service provides a total market view, encompassing activity at all retailers including Walmart. It delivers critical insights into market trends, demographics, and customer satisfaction to help companies address the challenges of market sizing, competitive analysis and response, new product development, product positioning, and more.

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Shopping Activity Services

Get access to insights on shopping, browsing, and buying visits across all channels, retailers, categories, and demographics. View conversion rate and average spend measures and see how they vary by retailer, season, and demographic. Gain an understanding of where else your customer is shopping and buying.

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Checkout Tracking

Checkout Tracking℠ provides information on consumer buying behavior at the market basket level, based on receipts for brick-and-mortar retail purchases. You get precise, item-level purchase detail that is linked to buyers and their demographics. Data comes from large-scale longitudinal panels, making it possible to study the same consumers over time, analyze competitive market baskets, and identify purchase patterns.

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Modeling and Analytics

Where are the opportunities? Where are the dangers? What happens next? Now you can know. The NPD Group’s Solutions portfolio provides insight into what will happen in the future in your market.

Our team combines NPD POS and consumer information; custom survey research; distinctive, one-of-a kind research techniques and methodologies; and a half century of industry expertise to identify opportunities, uncover threats, forecast sales and market share, optimize pricing and assortment, and much more.

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February 12, 2015

Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking Services

Store-Level Enabled retail tracking delivers unmatched POS information to help manufacturers partner with retailers, identify growth opportunities.

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January 19, 2015

Taking Stock: Tablet Accessories in U.S. Households

New Tablet Accessory Inventory Report explores purchase motivators, attitudes and behaviors, ownership and usage

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January 19, 2015

It’s a Battle of the Screens

Explore the implications and opportunities resulting from screen fragmentatiom

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September 5, 2014

Kids and Consumer Electronics

2014 Edition delivers new insight on the significant role consumer electronics products play in children’s lives — and how it’s changing

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Press Releases

May 3, 2016

Consumers’ Desire for a Single Digital Library Grows As Shoppers Continue Buying in Multiple Places

Port Washington, NY, May 3, 2016 – As buying digital movies and TV episodes becomes more common, The NPD Group’s latest Digital Video Acquisition Monitor (UltraViolet) report shows a growing interest in having digital content in one place. Two out of three digital video buyers feel that storing As buying digital movies and TV episodes becomes more common, The NPD Group’s latest Digital Video Acquisition Monitor (UltraViolet) report shows a growing interest in having digital content in one place.

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March 7, 2016

49 Million U.S. Internet Homes Now Own a Connected TV or Attached Content Device, According to The NPD Group

As Streaming Video Content Surges, U.S. Connected TV Household Penetration Increases 14% Year-Over-Year Port Washington, NY, March 7, 2016 – More than half (52%) of all U.S. Internet homes have at least one TV connected to the Internet, representing an increase of six million homes over the past ye More than half (52%) of all U.S. Internet homes have at least one TV connected to the Internet, representing an increase of six million homes over the past year, according to The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Connected Home Entertainment Report.

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January 27, 2016

More Than 1-in-5 Shoppers Used a Mobile Device During the Holiday Season, Reports NPD

Port Washington, NY, January 27, 2016 –More than 1-in-5 consumers purchased or browsed for products online via a mobile device when holiday shopping for themselves or others, according to global information company The NPD Group. That number was double among Millennial consumers, between the ages of More than 1-in-5 consumers purchased or browsed for products online via a mobile device when holiday shopping for themselves or others, according to global information company The NPD Group. That number was double among Millennial consumers, between the ages of 18 and 34.

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March 3, 2016

Winning Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers With the Five Ws

Every journalist and student in America knows the so-called five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. It turns out the same five Ws are also the most basic forms of consumer segmentation.

But relationships among the five Ws of shopping are a bit more complex than they are among the five Ws of writing. And the tales they tell are illuminating.

We shared online and brick-and-mortar, receipt-based data from our Checkout TrackingSM service with researchers from the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania. The study revealed the what and the why of consumer purchases are linked to the when of consumers’ lifestyles. In other words, when people have babies, they buy baby things. But the how and where of purchases are tied to who a consumer is by generation.

Even when the other four Ws are the same, it’s who we are – Boomer, Gen X, or Millennial – that makes all the difference.

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September 14, 2015

Cracking the Millennial Code: What Brands and Retailers Need to know

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August 10, 2015

Home Automation Market Trends - Solution specific products

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August 10, 2015

Home Automation Market Trends - Multi-functional tools

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August 10, 2015

Home Automation Market Trends - Remote Access and monitoring

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July 9, 2015

The Business Case for Comparing Apples to Oranges

If you spend enough time looking at enough data, you’ll realize that correlations tend to fall into three categories:

  1. 1. The obviously useful, i.e., you’re a pizza maker who has seen your share of the market fall as a new competitor’s share has risen.
  2. 2. The dubious, i.e, when trying to find a way to overcome that share decline, you discover a near perfect correlation between increases in mozzarella consumption and increases in the number of civil engineering doctorates.
  3. 3. The seemingly dubious but actually quite useful, i.e, you’re a pizza maker who finds that your customers prefer Android phones to iPhones.

Finding the business value in that last category is not an easy proposition, however. It requires a bit of imagination and a bit of commitment. You have to look beyond the immediate -- wow, that’s kind of cool! -- to see what it might mean for your business -- wait, I can use that!

So let’s look at the business cases for unusual correlations.

CNBC published an article recently that used data from The NPD Group to look at what consumers’ phone operating systems said about their food choices. That article generated a fair amount of attention across social media. You may have come across it yourself on Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere. If not, take a moment to read “What your smartphone says about your waistline” now.

As the article says, new Checkout Tracking℠ data from The NPD Group shows a slew of surprising links between food preferences and cellphones. Folks who carry iPhones are more likely to eat soup and drink smoothies. Android users over-index for roast beef sandwiches and pizza (which is not to say that those over-indexers overeat. Who are we to judge?)

The correlations also extend to restaurant preferences. IPhone users can be found at Panera; Android users are over at Hardee’s.

So if you work in the IT department at one of the restaurant chains mentioned in the CNBC article, you now know exactly which phone system to prioritize in your app development.

But if you work anywhere else, it may not be immediately apparent what the business uses of such cool correlations may be….until you look deeper.

Hidden in plain sight

Checkout Tracking data is based on the millions of receipts sent to us and our technology partner, Slice Intelligence, by consumers. Those receipts yield detailed, item-level data about individual consumers across stores, across all retail segments, covering both online and brick and mortar, and over time.

Just think about that for a second: transaction-level detail across all retailers, across all channels and all time, at the individual buyer level.

Checkout Tracking can tell retailers what their most loyal customers do after they left their store. It can tell manufacturers what else customers bought when they picked up their product at a retailer. So let’s look at just a few of the less-than-obvious applications.

  • If you know what products customers bundle together at checkout, you can maximize the value of each customer visit
  • If you can see what percentage of your customers’ wallets are captured by others, you can determine your true competitive set and develop plans to boost your share of wallet
  • If you can learn what’s really lifting sales (penetration? frequency? purchase size?) you can spend your marketing dollars where they’ll count

Checkout Tracking yields loads of such fascinating correlations and less-than-obvious business applications. In addition to food, NPD tracks 20 other industries, including games. Here are a few correlations from the uber-hot category of Millennial gamers:

  • Male Millennial mobile games buyers spend more of their dollars on Uber and Apple.com. They also spend more online dollars on Travel and Movies and TV.
  • Female Millennial mobile games buyers spend more of their dollars on Groupon. And they spend more online dollars on pet supplies and online deals.

Data like that suggests, for example, that the best way to reach female gamers may be through online deal sites. Or if you own a pet store, you may want to consider in-game advertising.

If you’d like to know more about how Checkout Tracking would work for your business, fill out the form to the right.

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March 26, 2015

Emotional disconnect in the connected home

There may not be a word in the English language that carries more subtext, more connotative and emotional weight, than “home.”
We fill the word with significance over the course of our lives. We have a “hometown” that defines us. We “head home for the holidays.” We practice “home improvement,” we work to have a “happy home” life. When we are lost or tired or afraid, every instinct in us yearns to “go home,” or to “phone home” or just to “stay home.”
Another word that is filled with meaning is “connect.” It wasn’t always so. “Connect” has taken on new significance in the modern world. No one seems to fall in love at first sight anymore. But we are filled with joy when we feel “an instant connection.” We describe our friendships as “sharing a connection.” We don’t introduce ourselves anymore. We reach out on social media and ask to “connect” with people.
So what happens when we combine those two words into a phrase -- “connected home” -- that describes an emerging industry of intelligent devices that live with us?
What do we seek in a “connected home”? What are our expectations? What are the emotional states, the human needs that such a phrase speaks to?

Filing for divorce

It seems that what people want in a “connected home” -- and what the industry is selling -- is an intuitive bond between people and the devices in their homes.
And it also seems that the “connected home” is falling short of creating that bond.
Kara Pernice is the managing director of the Nielsen Norman Group, arguably the most influential organization in the world of design and user experience.
In February Pernice published an article about how she had bought a Nest thermostat and experienced exactly such a bond. But over time her “pure love (for the device) morphed into abhorrence.”
Pernice wrote that “things went bad” when the semi-intelligent device let her down “emotionally.”
It’s a fascinating article. And one worth reading in its entirety.
The core of her argument is that rather than answering an emotional need, the device eventually created emotional distress. At issue was that it simply didn’t respond the way a member of a home would.
For example: Pernice lives in Boston. And that city has suffered from an extraordinarily harsh winter this year. The result of being subjected to such conditions is something that all humans understand, but that machines cannot: “... even on days when the thermometer says it’s not that cold, it looks and feels cold,” Pernice wrote. But the programmable thermostat doesn’t respond to subjective states. And turning up the heat with the programmable device is more complex than simple cranking up the heat on a traditional thermostat.
Eventually Pernice decided to get rid of her device. And it’s instructive that the word she used to describe this parting was “divorcing” -- a word generally used to describe the end of a marriage bond.
It’s easy to mock Pernice. A programmable thermostat is, after all, just a machine. It’s unreasonable to expect it be more.
But that’s the point. The promise of the “connected home” is that our lives will be filled with things that are more than machines.

Machine Learning

There may not be anyone on earth who thinks more about the future of the “connected home” than Eddie Hold, vice president of The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence practice. As such, Hold is central to NPD’s new home automation point- of-sale (POS) data and advisory service. That service comprises consumer panel-based reporting, qualitative reports, U.S. point-of-sale data, and unique analysis of the automated home market. Hold read Pernice’s article, and he thinks her reactions are worth noting.
“It’s an interesting concern as we move more into the automated home: these things are supposed to make life easier for us, but it’s very difficult to predict just what an individual may believe is ‘easier’” he said.
More importantly, when consumers feel unable to control a machine, it triggers a visceral contempt and a deep-seated fear. Anyone who has ever seen a Terminator movie knows that.
“It’s the start of machines taking over the world,” Hold joked. “We think they are working for us, but somewhere along the way, they decide they know what is better.”
This sense that either we control our machines completely or risk annihilation is perhaps the great fear of our era. Is there anyone who doesn’t get just a wee bit nervous when the elevator jolts to a stop and folks start making those “open the Pod bay door, Hal” jokes? Is anyone perfectly comfortable with drone war? with driverless trains?
When consumers grew outraged that their voice-activated televisions were actually listening to what people said in their homes, it felt both funny and true. Of course the machines listen! They’re voice-activated!
Interestingly, we have this level of concern even though we are still very, very far away from having machines that are smart enough to hurt us.
There are now more than a half-billion Internet-connected devices in U.S. homes, according to data from The NPD Group. But the overwhelming majority of those devices are PCs, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and the like. The technologies in our homes today, although they may evoke fears and inspire sci-fi movies, are not true Artificial Intelligence. They are just machines … albeit with some impressive capabilities. They are based on brute force computing power and sensors. They’re not intelligent. They’re neither sentient nor sapient.
They are machines. And they do not feel the cold. Nor are they capable, yet, of knowing that we feel the cold but wish not to.
And therein is the challenge of building the “connected home.”
Consumers want devices that bond with them on an emotional level. We want the machine to know how we feel and how we wish to feel.
We want, for example, that should we wake one day when we are old and not feel particularly well, that our fitness trackers and body sensors will scan our medical records, review what we ate the night before, and then speak to us through an interface. “Are you OK? Should we call your children? Do you want to go to the doctor? Or do you want to stay here, at home?”
Until then, until we have a connected home that understands the significance of words like “connected” and “home,” we will always be disappointed by the machines in our life.
And perhaps it’s just as well. Because someday soon it’s likely we will have machines with just such capability.
And then we will have to face the fear that a recalcitrant semi-intelligent thermostat only hints at: What will we do if the machines in our homes come to know how we feel, but don’t care?

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March 15, 2013

A look into the future of tablets and smartphones

Click here to see other consumer technology reports.

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January 4, 2013

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December 4, 2012

What Consumer Electronics products will sell well this holiday?

Steve says that there a lot of interesting items that will sell well this holiday. Hear which ones.

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Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts

February 6, 2014

It’s a Sad Day for the PC Industry

Sony announced today that it is shutting down its worldwide PC business and selling it off to a Japanese investment firm that will maintain the business in that country. Of course, the trends in the traditional PC business have been difficult for the last few years, but in general we believe Sony’s problems (to the extent there really were problems) are more self-made than a function of the industry troubles.

Sony has always had a mixed approach to its PC business but their primary focus was on design. Sony tried to take advantage of its brand strengths for years built the coolest, smallest, most compact SKUs that appealed to, and were priced for, the premium customer and were successful as “executive jewelry” type of products. Yet they had trouble balancing the need for volume and scale with their ability to lead the market in design and appearance. This challenge was reflected in a constant back and forth movement between a focus on the premium segment and then sometimes a focus on the basic volume segment. As a company they were never willing to commit to winning in both segments at the same time. The result was a brand that was always facing limited shelf space, lack of presence in key market segments, and an inconsistent approach that confused customers and retailers and didn’t use their considerable brand strength to its advantage. In many ways this mirrors the long-term challenges Sony has faced in their TV business; how to be a premium brand in the segments that demanded it, how to be a volume brand when the market required it, and how to manage between those two opposite demands in a way that allowed both to leverage their brand strength.

Sony has not been unsuccessful in the PC business, especially recently, which makes this more puzzling. We would argue that Windows 8 actually provided an opportunity for Sony as a premium on design and product, especially around touch, has been positioned as an important part of the Win 8 market. With well-designed interesting products like the VAIO Flip and the VAIO Tap, Sony has found success. For the first nine months after the Windows 8 launch Sony was the number two touchscreen notebook brand over $500, clearly their sweet spot, with 17 percent of the market and an average price of over $900. However, as prices have fallen over the back half of 2013 Sony fell back into its old product mistakes, not defending its core market well and unable to find a way to build on its early mover success, falling back to just 8 percent share over the last six months.

While we are never fond of product decisions made by financial criteria, we find this decision to be particularly troubling, and one that is likely, ultimately, at least in the US to be decidedly unsuccessful. Shifting focus onto tablets and smartphones is all well and good however the synergy; in distribution, in design and in branding between those segments is undeniable (especially here in the US and among the higher value products Sony favors). And Sony’s total lack of success here in the US in those segments is not likely to improve without a PC business alongside. Ultimately though another company with demonstrable strengths and a unique position in the market has chosen to give up rather than compete. And that makes it a sad day.

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October 23, 2013

A Mini for the Max

As expected, Apple rolled out new tablets yesterday, but along with the new tablets the old challenges remain.  As the tablet market has swung dramatically towards the small, and low-cost device, Apple once again shows that they believe that their place is to guide the market upward and remain the rational player in the segment.  Whether that strategy will be successful, as it appears to be in the smartphone market, is now one of the mysteries of the holiday season.

The iPad Air appears to be the coolest iPad yet; at one pound, thinner than a pencil, and with 475,000 apps it is likely to set the bar pretty high in what a consumer might think is important in a large size tablet purchase.  But, right now, consumers aren’t in that large-size tablet mindset.  In fact, year-to-date sales of tablets 9 inches and above are down 36 percent and total sales volume has been eclipsed by their smaller siblings, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service.  Now whether that is because the iPad (now iPad Air) has gotten stale between refreshes, or whether the concept and pricing of touch PCs has grown relatively more compelling, or whether consumers are looking for something smaller, like an iPad Mini or small Android tablet is a question that the market hasn’t answered yet, but the Air will help answer that over the next couple of months.  However, with iLife now free, the large size iPads appear to be moving inexorably towards a clash with the growing PC touch market and separating themselves from the small size tablet market.

While the future of the iPad Air and the 9 inch and above tablet market is uncertain, the under 9 inch market continues to explode.  Sales are up 550 percent year-to-date and 350 percent in September.  It is here, we believe, that the choices made by Apple are much more critical.  Google and Amazon both made the same decision Apple did yesterday – a high-resolution small tablet is a must – and if the price needs to be raised then that is the cost of delivering the right product.

While Amazon just launched, we have a few months of history for Google to dwell upon.  For them the strategy has not yet proven itself.  The Nexus at $229 saw a strong start but sales slowed in September, especially when compared to the $199 Nexus of 2012.  The question is whether a Mini at $299 is competitive enough to continue to capture the small size market, and whether the $399 Retina Mini is a compelling enough product to allow Apple to maintain its lead in the under 9 inch segment -  a lead that is much more tenuous than we track in the larger size tablets.

The betting here is that the positives outweigh the negatives and the $299 Mini will be a rousing success, and the new $399 revamped Mini with a retina display, is just strong enough to keep the volumes balanced.  This view is based on the relationship between the iPad 2 and the just discontinued iPad (being maintained with the iPad Air).  In that market we see the desire for Apple to be strong, but not at any price, and the iPad 2 has provided a critical floor to the iPad’s market opportunity.  In fact, the iPad 2 outsells the equivalent size of the iPad and is the best-selling large-screen iPad.  We believe that that successful strategy will work for the Mini as well.

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