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CES Unveiled, Christmas Unwrapped

| November 14, 2012

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

NEW YORK — You’ve seen those lines whenever a new iPhone came out?  During the recession, and now in recovery, consumer electronics (CE) has been a conspicuous bright spot, and will continue to be.  On-track to grow 5.9% to a $206.5 billion business in the USA alone in 2012, CE is projecting a 4.5% increase to $215.8B in the new year.

Each November, the Consumer Electronics Association does a press preview of its Consumer Electronics Show, the mammoth, mind-boggling January convention I cover each year for TALKERS.  Here are my notes…and radio should take note, for four reasons:

  • Obviously, we want-in-on the advertising for those billions in merchandise.
  • And, after all, radio was the original electronic gadget.  And we now play in a real crowded arena.  Listeners have become accustomed to acquiring information/entertainment content — radio franchises a generation ago – other ways.  Smart stations are now publishing on multiple platforms.
  • Enthusiasm for electronics is an audience-building and advertiser-bonding opportunity.  As contest prizes, iPhone and iPad are catnip; and we pack-the-room when we offer either as a door prize when client stations have me present to retailers and agency people over lunch.  Smart talk stations include a gadget show among weekend specialty programs, and the CE category combo-sells well with automotive and home improvement shows, since tech is so fundamental to those categories.
  • The broadcasting and consumer electronics industries don’t always play-nicely.  As recent severe weather and other episodes have exposed the wireless platform’s limitations, broadcasting has pressed-for – and the CE and Wireless industry have lobbied-against mandating – FM tuners in mobile devices.  Radio stations which are still adequately staffed to step-up remind listeners of AM/FM radio’s “first informer” value.  And because the Washington DC area has recently suffered several blizzards, a dang earthquake, and other routine-halting events, members of Congress “get it.”  Your station will continue to be conspicuous if you can deliver when-the-fit-hits-the-shan.

“Black Friday will be bigger (and longer) than ever.”
Consumer Electronics Association Holiday Sales Forecast

Wal-Mart and Target have already announced early openings, Thanksgiving night.

Having frustrated early shoppers in years past, retailers will offer in-stock guarantees.  If they do run-out of items, they’ll issue shoppers coupons for first-dibs on ASAP re-stock.  Price-matches will be common.  These are copy points I am recommending that stations include in spots you write for local retail advertisers who operate accordingly.

CEA forecasters caution: “Weather could play a role.”

We already know what will be in Santa’s sleigh, because CEA research nails it every year.  And, based on a national survey sample of 1019 USA adults, they’re forecasting that tech toys will top the list again in the looming holiday shopping season:

  • 76% of gift buyers plan on buying at least one CE product.
  • The average 2012 tech gift spend is $252.  That’s 30% of gift USA adult shoppers’ total holiday gift spend.
  • “Tablets will dominate” CE holiday gifting; forecast up 112% over last year.
  • 20% of USA adults say they’ll buy a TV this holiday season.
  • Also big: smartphones and Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras and Wireless Multi-Room Audio.

HOW BIG are tablets and smartphones?  $60+ billion in the USA alone.  With ‘em, CE unit shipment grew 6% this year.  Without ‘em, the industry would be down 5%.



  • Holiday shopping E-commerce is forecast +14% over last year.
  • 2012 Holiday CE Wish List (adults):
  1. Tablet: 16%
  2. TV: 10%
  3. Smartphone: 8%
  4. Notebook computer: 7%
  5. E-reader: 45
  6. MP3 player: 4%
  7. VG console: 4%
  8. Blu-ray player: 3%
  9. Digital camera: 3%
  10. 10.Desktop PC: 2%


  • “The sun is setting on” MP3 players, of-which iPod was leader-of-the-pack.  Big-reason-why: music on smartphones.
  • Sales of TVs 20″ and smaller declined 1/5 year-to-year.


  • Innovation revs-up.  The smartphone design-to-shelf development cycle is now 9 months max.
  • “Smartphones and tablets collide.”  Separate research from eMarketer: 17 million 7-inch tablets shipped last year; this year 34 million (worldwide); by 2013 that number will nearly double.
  • Ultra-HD TV, just introduced, is four times higher-def’ than HDTV.  Imagine?  Why: because screens are getting bigger.  And, as when HDTV was introduced, Ultra-HD early adopters will pay through-the-schnozz.  CEA forecasts that Ultra-HD will attain 9% of the HDTV market by 2016.
  • “The concept of ‘a TV’ is changing before our eyes.”  3 years ago, TV transitioned analog-to-digital.  Next transition: “[Internet] connected TV,” already proliferating, will become commonplace.  This can offer radio a path to the new “TV.”
  • “Full-fledged home health care systems:” Smartphones already support an array of health/fitness measurement.  “Innovation is meeting a need as healthcare costs escalate,” and as Baby Boomers monitor their elderly parents.
  • UltraViolet video, “Your Movies in the Cloud:” We’ve already seen movies sold as two-disk packages, DVD and Blu-ray.  Now they’ll come with a third configuration: “secure, lifelong access to content in the cloud across platforms and from any and all manufacturers and retailers who enable UltraViolet.”

 See/hear/read more from consultant Holland Cooke at www.HollandCooke.com; and follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke.

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Category: Features