The Silent Consumers in CE and Home Entertainment

Best Buy recently named a new CEO. The retailer is struggling – facing competition from online retailers, a scandal involving its former CEO, and slumping sales overseas. Believe me. I have sympathy for anyone running that company. Consumer electronics and home entertainment is a tough business. The pace of technological change is so rapid these days that the cool product one month can be out of date in as little as two to three months. However, there is one thing that I believe people often forget about the consumer electronics market. With all the talk about the “hot” products in the media and on blogs and other places online, no one really mentions how diverse the market is. Of course, when Apple introduces a new iPhone a bunch of people are going to run out and buy it. Everybody knows the guy (or girl) who has to have the newest, fastest, sleekest (and usually most expensive) gadget that is available. But, for every “early adopter” there are lots of people who don’t need (or want or possibly can’t afford) the latest, newest technology. For them, a consumer electronics product – whether it’s a smart phone, HDTV, digital camera or dozens of other products – that is six months or a year or even two years old can serve their needs perfectly well. I would venture to say that there are millions of consumers like this. I call them “the silent consumers” in CE and home entertainment. You don’t hear about them very much. They’re not covered in Wired magazine. They probably don’t read Cnet.com or hometheaterreview.com. They certainly don’t stand in line overnight at the Apple store. These consumers simply exist in a different phase of a product’s lifecycle. They buy products based on different criteria, at different price points. And they buy from a variety of retailers – some of which might be considered “non-traditional” for the consumer electronics sector. But they are out there. You probably know someone like this if you think about it. So I say, good luck to the new CEO of Best Buy. But I also say don’t forget the other consumers in the food chain of consumer electronics. My company buys lots of consumer electronics all the time that for one reason or another are not moving in their traditional outlets. And we find places for them. These silent consumers are out there. Trust me.

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