Published: 08.54 Europe/London, April 26, 2011

Consumers around the globe are replacing both their flat panel and CRT TVs at a much faster rate than the previous 10-15 year average for CRT-to-CRT replacement, according to US research firm DisplaySearch.

“Digital broadcast transitions and more affordable flat panel TVs have caused consumers to replace their TVs, especially CRT models, in record numbers. By looking at how the pace of replacement is changing and what the drivers of replacement are, we can start to understand how future consumption might look,” said Paul Gagnon, DisplaySearch director of North America TV market research, in a statement.

Gagnon added, “For example, if the installed base in a market was largely comprised of recently purchased TVs, and the replacement cycle wasn’t growing shorter fast enough, there could be a lull in demand coming. This is particularly true if TV makers are counting on new features like 3D to drive shorter cycles, but consumers aren’t interested in trading in a recently-purchased TV just to get a new feature.”

In more mature flat panel TV markets, like Japan or the US, it might be expected that relatively higher household discretionary spending can lead to quicker replacement of TVs, but DisplaySearch research indicates that this is not necessarily the case. Some of the recently-purchased TVs being replaced are found in emerging markets, like India, Indonesia and China, where the overall TV business is less mature because they generally adopted TVs at a later stage than advanced regions. Although they have a relatively young base of installed TVs to replace, the differences are pretty big. For example, Indonesian consumers are replacing TVs that are nearly half the average age of TVs being replaced in Japan. This also is happening during a time when significant eco-points incentives are being offered to entice Japanese consumers to upgrade, which they are using to swap out much older sets.

Consumers around the globe replace their TVs for a variety of reasons. While the results vary by region, key findings included these highlights: consumers wanted a flat panel TV or HDTV, or often both. The decision to replace a TV was also very strongly linked to wanting a larger set with better picture quality; the existing TV being outdated or broken was a strong driver TV replacement, but not one of the top reasons.

Interestingly, new advanced features, like internet connectivity and 3D are still very weak drivers for TV replacement, indicating that consumers aren’t going out to buy a new TV just because these features become available. Price-related factors were important in TV replacement decisions.

TV brand trust was slightly more important than other reasons, except in Japan where it was very important. In the flat panel TV era, so many brands have emerged with a wide range of price points that price may be trumping brand selection. This, combined with the fact that leading brands have been aggressively matching low price competition levels the playing field, but downplays brand importance.