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Trends in Consumer Electronics Purchasing

Trends in Consumer Purchasing and International Trade Highlight Day Two of CEA’s Industry Forum

On its second day, the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) 2006 Industry Forum focused on consumer purchase patterns, growing trends in the digital home, employee recruitment and international trade. The CEA Industry Forum, a three day conference designed to educate and connect industry professionals, media and analysts on the latest trends, technologies and legislation affecting the consumer electronics industry, runs through today at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel.

Day two of CEA’s Industry Forum opened with a research presentation and panel discussion titled, “In Search of…Understanding How Consumers Use the Internet to Research and Shop for CE Products.” The panel concluded that consumers now use six sources to obtain research on products they plan to purchase, but that recommendations from friends and family remain the primary source.

Tim Herbert, CEA senior director of market research, moderated the panel comprised of sales and marketing leaders including Les Kruger, director, online sales and marketing, Cingular Wireless; Paul O’Brian, strategic manager of interactive marketing, HP Home and Home Office Store; and David Rubinstein, tech and telecom category director, Search Marketing, Yahoo!. The panelists discussed the importance of manufacturers, retailers and information websites, and the impact they have on perceptions of brands and purchase decisions.

Later in the morning, Accenture sponsored a panel titled “Digital Home: Enabling the Next-Generation Multimedia Experience,” which was moderated by Kumu Puri, a partner with Accenture’s Communications and High Tech practice and global lead for Accenture’s Consumer Technology industry program. Based on the results of a recent Accenture survey taken of 10,000 global consumers to better understand consumer needs and wants regarding technology, the session focused on changes in the digital home and new opportunities for businesses and industry players to interact with their customers. Puri warned, however, that these changes in technology and new customer needs would require companies to experiment with new business models.

Mark Cuban, chairman and president of HDNet, was the featured speaker at CEA’s annual member meeting and luncheon. He and CEA President and CEO, Gary Shapiro, had an interactive one-on-one discussion on a variety of industry topics, including the benefits of user-generated content sites and potential copyright challenges that Google might face in its recent acquisition of YouTube. Cuban also decried recent copyright moves by the content industry to impose expanded copyright protection. “We all benefit from common knowledge and wisdom,” he explained.

Cuban described his dream living room, featuring an LCD or plasma HDTV centered in the room with a surround sound system and many devices that easily connect to the TV via USB or firewire ports, along with a one terabyte portable hard drive for viewing and listening to all the content he and his family might want.

Cuban also shared his thoughts on the exciting opportunities that HDTV is presenting to consumers. “CEA members are responsible for changing the viewing habits of every household in America and for helping to positively enhance the TV experience and bring families back to the TV,” Cuban said. “People are fixated on the Internet, which is what the past ten years have been about, when a great deal of change and opportunity will be generated by the HDTV reality.”

Following the luncheon, CEA’s Small Business Council (SBC) sponsored a presentation on the “Secrets of Attracting and Hiring Top Talent,” led by Daniel Abramson of StaffDynamics. Packed with tips on what businesses should do to recruit and retain the best employees, Abramson led an interactive discussion on the best job websites and databases, the need to develop a unique selling proposition and the best ways to determine what truly motivates employees. As for the Generation Y employee, Abramson advised: “This group wants enrichment and they want to know they are appreciated.” He also provided feedback on the best approach for reaching this audience.

“Moving Your Products from the Port to the Shelf: Maximize Efficiency, Minimize Security Issues,” an afternoon panel discussion moderated by Elizabeth Hyman, CEA vice president, international, explored the “hidden costs of trade,” and included panelists Richard Abbey, senior associate, Miller & Chevalier Chartered; Earl Agron, director of port and container security, APL Logistics; and Dena Sedlak, Panasonic.

The panelists took the audience through the supply chain process, discussed the benefits and challenges of companies’ participation in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and the implications of the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act (SAFE) for the consumer electronics industry. Agron said the SAFE Port Act, which authorizes the development of high-tech inspection equipment for cargo containers, “will accelerate non-intrusive scanning.” The panelists agreed that the consumer electronics industry must do its part to facilitate governments’ understanding the nature of its business. “You are an integral part of the rules, practices and procedures adopted by your government,” Abbey advised.

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CEA Market Research analysts presented “5 Burning Questions” and answers at the end of day two programming at the Industry Forum. CEA Research Director, Joe Bates, and CEA Senior Manager, Industry Analysis, Steve Koenig, showed consumer videos and reviewed survey data on questions related to shifting sales channels, content distribution, wireless media services, emerging broadband services and consumer electronics recycling. The data revealed a growing shift toward online shopping, a generational divide regarding content format (physical media versus downloads), early adopter interest for advanced wireless services, interest in broadband video services, such as movie downloads and an emphasis on convenience for CE recycling.

On Tuesday evening, the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame inducted 12 new members, at the CE Hall of Fame awards dinner, for their efforts to improve the lifestyles of consumers across the globe. The CE Hall of Fame includes inventors, executives, engineers, retailers and journalists selected each year by a panel of industry judges.

Wednesday’s events at the 2006 Industry Forum include a panel discussion focused on the right to innovate and defending technology freedom, workshops discussing strategic business planning, CEA’s Board of Industry Leaders luncheon and CEA Division Executive Board meetings. For more information on CEA including the Industry Forum, visit http://www.CE.org.

About CEA:
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the consumer technology industry through technology policy, events, research, promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA represents more than 2,100 corporate members involved in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and integration of audio, video, mobile electronics, wireless and landline communications, information technology, digital imaging, home networking, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services that are sold through consumer channels. Combined, CEA’s members account for more than $125 billion in annual sales. CEA’s resources are available online at http://www.CE.org, the definitive source for information about the consumer electronics industry.

CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Defining Tomorrow’s Technology. All profits from CES are reinvested into industry services, including technical training and education, industry promotion, engineering standards development, market research and legislative advocacy.

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