Technical Market defies economic headwinds – Results GfK TEMAX® Western Europe – first quarter 2013

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gfkNuremberg, May 29, 2013 – The overall Technical Consumer Goods (TCG) market in Western Europe achieved a sales volume of €48.4 billion in Q1 2013. Although there was no growth, compared to the previous year, total sales remained stable. Greece and Spain faced bigger declines while Austria, Belgium and Italy generated the highest growth rates in terms of sales.

The need for mobility is growing among Western European consumers. The Telecommunication (Telco) and Information Technology (IT) markets, in particular, are profiting from this trend. As in previous quarters, smartphones and media tablets experienced robust growth. Sales for Small Domestic Appliances between January and March were also positive, with all segments in the sector showing increases. However, the other sectors within GfK TEMAX® Western Europe struggled, with most demonstrating declines at the start of the year.

Telecommunication: Smartphones becoming bigger and slimmer

The Telco market achieved a sales growth of 11.9% in Q1 2013. The total sales volume, on the basis of non-subsidized prices, amounted to €9.5 billion. A host of countries contributed to this result with double digit growth rates, especially Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Germany.

Smartphones continued to provide the biggest growth rates, triggered by more and more attractive price offers. Several new features for devices within the medium and premium segments also pushed sales, while the trend towards bigger and slimmer models continued. Additionally, larger smartphones with screens over 6” and bodies less than 10mm are, in some ways, rivaling media tablets. The current smartphone segment is being driven primarily by attractive designs, new functions and high standards of technical performance. Good prospects for a further dynamic development on the Telco market.

Please note Telco figures are reported with non-subsidized prices from this quarter onwards. Back data were reworked accordingly.

Small Domestic Appliances: Growth from all segments

Western European consumers spent about €3.1 billion on Small Domestic Appliances (SDA) between January and March 2013. The sales volume increased to 4.1%, compared with Q1 2012. The UK and Germany achieved double digit growth rates and had the strongest impact on the positive result.

Thanks to the demand for kitchen appliances and liquidizers, kitchen products continued to contribute to the increases seen within the total sector. Sales in the hot beverage makers segment also grew in Q1 2013. Espresso fully automatic machines saw a positive sales trend, particularly in Germany. Portioned filter coffee makers still profited from promotions, helped by lower average prices.

Dental care also contributed to the growth of the SDA sector. Except for France, sales for electric tooth brushes increased. Driven by innovative products, Waterjets also achieved a sales increase, especially in Germany.. Vacuum cleaners continued their ongoing upward trend and in most Western European markets, consumers opted for battery charged handsticks.

Information Technology: Innovations account for sales increase

The Western European IT market generated a growth rate of 4% in Q1 2013, corresponding to a sales volume of €14.6 billion. Top performers on a country level were Belgium, The Netherlands and Austria. Only Spain, Greece and France saw declines.

The overall increase within the IT sector was driven by the demand for innovative products. Media tablets are the hot products within the sector, while ultra-thin notebooks are also showing healthy increases. With further innovation expected, these segments, along with accessories, are set to perform well in 2013.

As well as mobility, connectivity is expected to provide further sales growth in the future. The demand for connecting different devices like TVs, computers and gaming consoles is growing, especially among private consumers. Accordingly, respective products from the communication and infrastructure areas developed positively between January and March 2013. Thanks to many attractive innovations, GfK expects a continuation of the upward trend in the IT market.

Major Domestic Appliances: Professional trends enter the kitchen

Sales in the Major Domestic Appliances (MDA) sector amounted to €7.5 billion in Q1 2013. Positive developments were seen in Sweden, UK, Germany and Austria. The total sales growth rate was slightly negative
(-0.9%).

More and more households saw cooking as an event, paying attention to healthy preparation at the same time. Along with that, trends towards professional equipment were frequently bought for private kitchens. Hobs with induction technology, for example, have previously been top selling products, creating high average prices.

The demand for vitamin preserving cooking also stimulated the sales of cookers and ovens with additional steam technology and also helped the sales of steam ovens.

Convenience still plays an important role in the sector, with touch display technology demonstrating a growth in demand. Consumers also preferred appliances with low noise levels, for instance in the dishwashers segment. Against the background of growing digitalization and connectivity, exciting innovations can be expected in 2013.

Office Equipment and Consumables: Growth from the niche

Total sales of the Western European Office Equipment and Consumables market amounted to €4 billion between January and March 2013; this is a quarter on quarter decrease of 3.6%. France and Austria were the only countries to record slightly positive growth rates and therefore able to counter the negative trend in the first quarter 2013.

Though sales for inkjet printing devices remained under pressure at the start of the year, the first signs of recovery could be seen. Duplex printing and Wireless-Lan contributed to this optimistic trend. A more thorough look at the scanner market reveals movement in sub segments, although the whole area has been struggling with declines for some time.

There is now an increasing demand for mobile document scanners. Growth from this niche gives rise to optimism for the rest of the year.

Photo: Demand for high picture quality triggers impulse 

Western European consumers spent a total of €1.6 billion on photo products observed in the GfK TEMAX® Western Europe in Q1 2013. This is a quarter on quarter decrease of 4.2%. Nevertheless, several markets, especially Austria and Germany, were able to generate positive growth rates. Good results were also achieved by single product groups: changeable lens cameras as well as interchangeable grew, compared to the first quarter of 2012.

Fixed lens cameras – still the main segment within digital cameras – also stimulated the market, particularly appliances in the higher price classes with respective technical features, like highzoom models. The growing demand for high class cameras, in particular, shows that picture quality is an important factor for many consumers buying a camera. This helped to partially compensate the ongoing decline of lower end cameras, which are being replaced by smartphones.

Consumer Electronics: High market saturation

Sales in the Western European CE market amounted to a total volume of €7.9 billion in Q1 2013. This corresponds to a decrease of 15.2%, compared to the previous year. All segments were affected by this negative trend. The TV segment, the most important in terms of sales, is still suffering from high market saturation. As the majority of households already own a Flat TV, consumers are spending their money on other products. The overall negative trend in the TV segment is also partly a result of the very strong sales witnessed last year.

Additional market stimulants, triggered by major sporting events as well as the analogue switch-off in Germany, led to superior sales in 2012. It is expected, however, that the development in the second half of the year will recover.

Smart TVs, which have excelled in recent times, are becoming more popular and a standard feature for new models. The success of sound bars, which improve the sound of the Flat TVs, shows consumers are also focusing more on quality. Consumer demand in the CE sector is currently being driven more by audio than TV or video, with docking appliances leading the way. These products enable consumers to enjoy music in their homes, be it by smartphone, media tablet or MP3/MP4-player.

GfK TEMAX® Western Europe: Portugal and Italy recover

The Southern European countries, in particular, are still suffering from the long shadow of the financial and debt crisis in the first quarter 2013. Among all countries surveyed within the GfK TEMAX® Western Europe, Greece and Spain registered the biggest sales declines for technical consumer goods. The main problem in both countries is high unemployment, which significantly limits consumers’ financial scope for bigger investments. However, there were also signs of recovery: sales in Portugal and especially in Italy were growing again, between January and March 2013. The Northern areas also developed positively during this period. Overall sales generated by technical consumer goods amounted to a volume of €48.4 billion. Despite partly difficult economic circumstances, the total Western European Technical market remained robust.

The Survey

GfK TEMAX® is an index developed by GfK to track the technical consumer goods markets. The findings are based on surveys carried out on a regular basis by the retail panel of GfK. The retail panel comprises data from over 425,000 retail outlets worldwide. Since February 2009, GfK has also been compiling the GfK TEMAX® index at international level in more than 30 countries. It is the first index that includes all of the markets for technical consumer goods in different countries. All directly included country reports and press releases are available at www.gfktemax.com.

GfK TEMAX® Western Europe directly includes the following countries:  Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, France, Greece, UK and Sweden. Besides them, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Switzerland are represented by extrapolated data.

About GfK

GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies, with around 13,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2012, GfK’s sales amounted to €1.51 billion.

To find out more, visit www.gfk.com