Nuremberg, 14.09.2021

Global consumer electronics market: on the up or showing signs of saturation?

The global consumer electronics market (excluding North America) achieved sales growth of $42.8 billion in the first half of 2021 – an increase of 18 percent. This marks a continuation of the growth trend that began last year, prompted by lockdowns and a greater focus on entertainment at home. Consumers continue to place value on premium and better-quality equipment. Working from home, meanwhile, is driving the demand for headphones and mobile stereo headsets. 

The Covid-19 pandemic sparked a strong increase in sales in many sectors of the consumer electronics market in 2020. In the first half of 2021, the global consumer electronics market grew by +18 percent, registering $42.8 billion in revenue. These developments were driven by the lack of entertainment opportunities outside the home and the shift to working from home. 

"The upward trend in the demand for consumer electronics is continuing apace in 2021. In particular, this is fueled by the strong demand for devices with better features" says Jan Lorbach, GfK expert in Consumer Electronics. "That said, retailers and the wider industry will have to be prepared for demand to stagnate in the second half of the year if pandemic-related restrictions are relaxed or not reintroduced. At this point, vacations and other leisure activities will take up a greater proportion of household budgets, which will mean less money spent elsewhere, especially on consumer electronics.“

Premium is the key to sales growth in the TV market

The global TV market excluding North America achieved sales of $33 billion from January to June 2021 – 18 percent more than the same period in 2020, which included the first lockdown. 
The growth drivers continue to be larger displays and more expensive devices with better features. GfK data show that sales of devices with screens larger than 60 inches grew to $11.3 billion (+46 percent) in the first half of 2021. New technologies such as better synchronization with game consoles (GPU Sync) have already achieved a market share of 18 percent for devices of over 50 inches. Mini LED devices continue to see an interesting trend. This technology is currently being introduced to the market and is still seeing a low share of sales in the TV market. The entry-level price is $2,935 as of June 2021. 

The gradual trend toward premium devices is also causing prices to rise. By way of illustration, a TV cost around $429 in the first half of 2020, but by the first half of 2021 this had risen to $536. But prices are also rising in mid-range segments that have not seen any significant innovation upgrades or the introduction of premium features. For instance, the price of a 55-inch LCD screen was $536 in June 2020, increasing to $679 in June 2021. In addition to the increased demand for devices with higher-quality features, this rise in prices is also due to the scarcity of semiconductors and freight capacity shortfalls, including due to the temporary blockage of the Suez Canal in spring 2021.

The trend toward premium products is also evident in sales of peripheral devices such as soundbars with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X functionality. Global sales of such devices have more than doubled, to $311 million, compared to the first half of 2020. By contrast, devices without this functionality saw growth of 7 percent in the period from January to June 2021 but are still slightly above the pre-pandemic level.

Working from home: Still a driving factor in the headphone and mobile stereo headsets market in 2021

Increased or continued working from home was again a strong driver of sales of headphones and mobile stereo headsets in the first half of 2021. Global sales (excluding North America) rose 26 percent to a total of $6.6 billion. In particular, the True Wireless segment – headphones without any wires or cables – saw an above-average 40-percent increase in sales to $4.5 billion. Devices with active noise canceling are also showing significantly stronger sales growth, with sales of $2.8 billion – almost double the figures for the same period in 2020, and more than triple those for 2019. True wireless is a key driver here too. For example, three out of four US dollars spent in the active noise canceling segment went toward purchases of these devices.

Note to the editors

Through its retail panels, GfK regularly collects sales data in more than 70 countries worldwide for the consumer electronics, photography, telecommunications, information technology, office equipment, and small and large household appliances sectors.

Unless stated otherwise, all figures mentioned in this press release refer to the six months from January to June 2021. Growth rates in percent refer to sales compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. All sales and growth figures are calculated in US dollars. 

Media contact: Julia Richter, T +49 911 395 4440, 

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