Monday, June 2, 2008

What Sells a Flat-Panel?

The flat-panel TV market has been heating up over the past few years, due to the benefits this technology offers over traditional CRT (do we even remember what those are anymore?), as well as rapidly advancing technologies that make pictures brighter, sharper, and overall more engaging to the viewer. But what really sells a flat-panel TV these days?

A discussion with an industry member the other day posed this very question. It seems as though the focus has shifted from “speeds and feeds” to aesthetics – thin designs, incorporating colours in the bezels, and “neat” functions like Internet connectivity, compatibility with like-branded devices, and even things like built-in memory card readers or USB ports for instantly viewing digital images or video from a compatible camera/corder. Has this shift happened because the consumers focus more on these aspects of a display, or is it because we’ve reached a plateau in technological development…for now?

Some believe that the increased emphasis is just a strategy for brands to differentiate themselves from one another because we’ve reached a point where so many of them are just so fantastic. Hitachi’s new 1.5-inch thin LCDs certainly turn heads by their gorgeous designs, as do Samsung’s new “Touch of Colour” panels that add a hint of red to the ambience of one’s living room, and LG’s new Scarlet series that focus on style just as much as picture quality. Then we come to companies like Pioneer that, while focusing on classy and sexy designs, also touts the “deep blacks” that its KURO panels can achieve. Granted, every single one of these manufacturers place some focus on technical features: 1080p high-definition picture resolution, 120 Hz refresh rate, and various other developments are always listed in marketing or display literature in retail stores.

On the other side of the fence, it can be argued that the “average” consumer, many of whom are finally jumping on the high-def, flat-panel bandwagon, don’t understand, nor care, about specs. They want a TV that looks good, of course, but is that enough to sell them on one? No. They also want the design of the TV itself to fit into their d├ęcor, and if that means getting one with interchangeable bezels, or one where you can easily play back photos during family gatherings, so be it. And price will always come into play. But most consumers will be willing to fork over a few extra bucks if a salesperson can provide them with a convincing demo that shows the benefits of one model over another.

Many will admit that women are also playing a more important role in the buying decision of electronics. A recent survey conducted by Sharp Canada reiterated this point, discovering that upwards of 80% of the purchasing decisions are made by women! A Ladies Night in High-Def event I attended recently (organized by Sharp) shed some light on some of the features that women either knew nothing about, or that impressed them the most. You might be surprised by the results.

The truth is, there really is no clear cut answer. Every shopper is different, and one demo that will convince one customer might not convince the other. The important point is to give the customer what he wants, but also make him aware of the alternatives. If, in the end, he wants a flat-panel with top-of-the-line specs over one that simply looks “pretty”, or vice versa, that’s up to him.

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1 comment:

LG Scarlet Adverts said...

Scarlet looks great

I saw the ads at the site in my name link... very cool