The personal computer industry fared well in 2011 despite softness in the Desktop space and a rapid decline in Netbook sales. According to Understanding the Canadian PC and Tablet Buyer, a recent study by leading market research company The NPD Group, Notebooks were the saving grace of the PC market, which finished the year with a two per cent growth based on overall dollar and unit sales. The Notebook category delivered a 12 per cent increase in sales, while Tablets, not included in these figures, are progressively penetrating homes.
Herein lies the challenge for PC manufacturers moving forward. With consumers enjoying better price points and greater brand selection amongst Tablets, the loss of market share across the rest of the PC market is a possibility. That said, Canadians remain reliant on more traditional computers, as evidenced by their tendency to replace existing PCs with newer products in this category.
“Tablets are currently not being purchased at the expense of personal computers, so there is little evidence suggesting cannibalization of the PC market at this time,” said Darrel Ryce, director, Technology & Entertainment at The NPD Group. “In order to achieve long-term success, PC manufacturers should focus on creating products that address those needs not typically satisfied by Tablets.”
The study shows that 60 per cent of potential PC buyers will be in the market to replace an existing model or to make a purchase that meets a present need. This is most evident with Notebooks, where almost half of recent consumers (49 per cent) were buying a replacement, a figure that is up 13 per cent from 2009. This is a significant change in the market, as much of the recent growth in Notebook sales was due to additional household purchases being made.
Approximately one quarter of experienced Desktop and Notebook buyers are brand loyal (26 per cent), though the overall deciding factor for all replacement units is pricing (31 per cent). To this end, bundled accessories, such as an extended warranty, more software or a laser printer will also help to drive sales.
“Not surprisingly, value is top of mind for Canadian consumers who are still shopping relatively conservatively as the country’s economy re-stabilizes,” continued Ryce. “This mentality also means that the majority of computer purchases are planned, particularly desktops.”
Most Canadians choose to buy their PCs and tablets in store, with only 29 per cent of transactions occurring online. Despite this relatively low web activity, those who do choose to purchase online are very selective, and create an interesting revenue opportunity for vendors and retailers alike.