The NPD Group: Mobile Phone Cases Lead 32 Percent Increase in Mobile Phone Accessories Sales

Based on NPD’s “Mobile Phone Accessories Attach Rate Study,” consumers spend more to protect their expensive investments in their smartphones.

PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, August 21, 2012 – According to The NPD Group, a leading market research company, revenues from mobile phone accessories in the U.S. increased 32 percent during the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Mobile phone cases were the most popular accessories category, growing 69 percent over the prior year, followed by stereo headphones with microphones, which grew 67 percent. In addition, case sales grew as average prices for these products rose 25 percent.

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 under 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, director of industry analysis at The NPD Group. “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.”

Where consumers go to buy accessories
varies by retail channel and purchase timing

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. 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.”

Information contained in this press release is based on The NPD Group’s “Mobile Phone Accessories Attach Rate Study,” which is based on surveys of more than 2,200 members of NPD’s online panel. The U.S. representative sample consisted of adults aged 18 and older.

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