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Scarborough Looks at Planned Tech Purchases

Says HDTV, smartphone and MP3 ownership surges

The holiday shopping season is underway and consumer interest in home technology products continues to expand. Scarborough Research recently examined households planning purchases of several key home technology products: HDTVs, smartphones and MP3 players.

Scarborough surveys more than 210,000 adults annually. The company is a joint venture of Arbitron Inc. and Nielsen Co.

Scarborough said its analysis of retail data shows that Best Buy and Walmart attract the highest percentage of home technology shoppers. Forty percent of households planning purchases of HDTVs, smartphones or MP3 players shopped Best Buy for home technology products during the past year, and 39 percent shopped Walmart, according to the research. Twenty-three percent shopped at Target, 12% went to Radio Shack and 10% shopped at Sears for technology purchases.

The shopper data examines audio/visual stores shopped in the past 12 months.

The research focused on consumers planning HDTV, smartphone or MP3 player purchases because the firm’s data shows a sharp increase household ownership of these items since 2007. HDTV tripled. In the company’s 2007 report, 16% of households had an HDTV. This increased to 48% in the company’s most recent study. Smartphones doubled. Seven percent of households had at least one smartphone in 2007. This increased to 14% in 2010. MP3 players doubled. Eighteen percent of households had at least one MP3 player in 2007. This increased to 36% in 2010.

“American consumers have diversified the types of stores they will shop for home technology goods. Traditional big box stores such as Best Buy, mass retailers like Walmart and Target, and even discount retailers such as Costco and Sam’s Club all are important in the home technology ecosystem,” stated Gary Meo, senior vice president of digital media services, Scarborough Research.

During the same timeframe, Internet access, broadband penetration and DVR penetration also increased.

Scarborough data show almost three-fourths of adults (74%) now access the Internet, up from 67% in 2007. Broadband penetration has increased, from 45% of adults having broadband access at home in 2007 to 61% in 2010. DVR adoption also increased. The percentage of homes having a DVR increased from 26% in 2007 to 34% in 2010.

Cell phone ownership is growing, too. Scarborough finds that 82% of American adults now use a cellular phone, compared to 70% in 2007. But, while device ownership is flattening, spending is increasing. In the 2007 report, only 5% of U.S. adults spent $150 or more monthly on cellular services. This doubled to 10% in 2010.