Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Youth Is Wasted on the Young, and So Are Consumer Electronics

When it comes to consumer electronics buying this holiday season, it turns out age is everything but a number.

According to a new survey from Parks Associates, an international market research firm, age will be the biggest factor in tech purchases made between Nov. 1 and Jan. 1. Young adult consumers — defined as those between 18 and 34 years of age — are more likely than others to purchase laptops, smartphones, tablets and LCD flat-panel displays this season. Also, households with children are much more likely to purchase laptops and LCD flat-panels.

Image courtesy of David Boyle/Flickr

Not surprisingly, tablets are the product of choice for big spenders, with higher-income households more likely to buy iPads and Android tablets. Some other interesting notes from the survey: Apple’s ecosystem of music, media and apps continues to drive interest in hardware, with 17 percent of consumers surveyed saying they’re looking to buy Mac laptops, trailing only Dell at 22 percent of intended purchases.

And in the smartphone category, there’s more bad news for BlackBerry: 83 percent of current iPhone users intend to buy an iPhone again this holiday season; 81 percent of Android OS users said the same, but only 41 percent percent of BlackBerry users intend to buy RIM’s iconic handheld device again this season.

The data, which comes from a survey of 2,000 U.S. heads of household and factors in purchases to date this year, as well as buying intentions, offers a somewhat optimistic outlook for consumer electronics this holiday season, with purchase intentions rebounding to near-2009 levels after a steep decline in 2010. Almost 50 percent of U.S. broadband-connected households intend to purchase a CE product from early November to Jan. 1, compared to 38 percent last year.

The fact that consumers began shopping earlier than usual this year may be giving retailers a longer window to move products, researchers note. Consumers also indicated that mobile shopping and mobile wallet options are increasingly appealing.

But it’s not all good news in gadgetland, as the economy continues to weigh on consumer confidence. Other data suggests that 2011 may still be a weaker than expected year for consumer electronics spending. Research firm IHS iSuppli recently reduced its consumer electronics growth outlook for the year, cutting expected revenue to $357.3 billion, a 1.5 percent rise from revenues in 2010, compared to its previous forecast of 6.4 percent growth for the year.

Parks Associates’ director of research John Barrett calls the slight boost in spending intentions this season the “keeping-it-home” phenomenon, noting that the people surveyed were more likely to make purchases for themselves this year, or for someone in their own household, rather than for gift-giving outside of the home. “The number of people buying something has gone up, but so have all the economic worries,” Barrett notes.

Readers, have you bought, or do you intend to buy, consumer electronics this holiday season?

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik