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Promising year start for the Western European Technical Consumer Goods Market

GfK TEMAX® results for Western Europe, Q1 2019

The Western European markets for technical consumer goods are influenced by global megatrends that GfK has identified. See below for more info and further resources. 

  • Performance: Experiences are increasingly becoming a key purchase factor for consumer. Gaming leads that facet in IT. Learn more about gaming ecosystem.  > GfK infographic 
  • Borderless Shopping: How was the Black Friday in 2018? What were the most bought items? Which regions spearheaded this growth? Check out a quick snapshot with our infographic for Black Friday 2018. > GfK infographic 
    In order to deliver the borderless shopping experience, digital retail technologies are becoming ever more important. Read more about retailing of tomorrow in our blog articles. >GfK blog
  • Simplification: Consumers are prepared to pay more for products which make their lives easier. Connected devices can deliver on that need and simplify an over-complex life. Voice assistants set the next frontier of connectivity. 
  • Premium: Consumers increasingly agree that “It is important to indulge or pamper myself on a regular basis.” Aspirational products satisfy this need to express identity. They come at premium price and pamper the “me”.

To learn more about the trends and developments across TCG stay tuned to this page.

    • 06/11/19
    • Retail
    • Consumer Goods
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • TEMAX
    • Global
    • English

    Clashing consumer trends battle for energy efficiency – pt. 2

    In part one of this blog series, we identified two clashing trends when it comes to consumers purchasing domestic appliances: Sustainability and Performance. In this post, we’ll try to better understand the interaction of these two core trends and explore their impact on energy efficiency.

    A disputed increase in energy efficiency

    Between 2014 and 2018, the average energy consumption of refrigerators has actually decreased by 2%. This represents a mix effect of different product segments which vary massively in their energy consumption. Side-by-Side fridges consume about 50% more energy when compared to Two-Door Combi fridges with No Frost technology. The trends towards larger and more energy-hungry appliances has almost offset the increase in the energy efficiency within comparable product segments (only 2% average energy reduction remains with this mix effect). Apart from the average energy consumed, if we look at the annual energy consumption of all sold refrigerators in 2018, the total sum of kWh even increased by 7% compared to 2014 (at a unit growth rate of 9%). This means that choosing larger and more energy-hungry appliances (performance/convenience related benefits) eats up almost all the technological efforts put into energy efficient innovations.

    Promising opportunities to save more energy in the future

    Within MDA 5*, almost 60% of energy is consumed by washing machines and refrigerators sold in 2018, which implies a big impact if such markets are subject to a change. Consequently, regulation standards bear quite a potential. For washing machines, the loading capacity plays a pivotal role: A+++ washing machines with 9kg+ capacity consume 18% more energy than a 6kg washer with the A+++ label. Scientific consumer research carried out by the University of Bonn** suggests that “consumers do not put more laundry into their bigger washing machines, but wash (almost) the same amount of laundry independent of the washing machine’s rated capacity.” Hence, these additional 18% of energy consumption is a potential for additional savings in the future. Some countries also present more potential in saving energy than others. In Germany, average energy consumption of A+++ washing machines is below the European average. Meanwhile in Great Britain, an average A+++ machine sold has used 19% more energy compared to the European benchmark. Besides regulatory approaches, there is also hope to stimulate awareness of energy efficiency when it comes to smart home appliances. In case transparency of real energy consumption increases (e.g. via live monitoring), this may stimulate more educated consumer behavior when deciding on a new appliance. As sustainability becomes more and more important to consumers, however, there is also a potential for the industry players to address such “energy savvy” consumers with products highlighting the best absolute energy consumption along with a reasonable capacity (e.g. 5-6kg). Differentiation can be achieved via the lifetime energy savings as well as a lower carbon dioxide footprint during production and lifetime.

    An opportunity arises

    There is a clear battle going on between the consumer demand for performance (capacity) and the need for sustainability. While the rise of Best-in-Class energy labels suggest that energy-efficient appliances are being sold more than ever before, almost all the improvement is lost because consumers continue to purchase larger appliances. It seems that even with low-involvement products like washing machines, the benefits of larger capacity (convenience) can beat the need for sustainability. This holds especially true when energy labels lead consumers to believe that they act responsibly while absolute energy consumption increases. The great thing about this “issue” is that another opportunity arises for brands to target “energy-savvy” consumers with solutions that truly advocates of energy efficiency. Smaller appliances can be promoted to them as an honest energy-saver for the good of our planet. * MDA 5: Washing Machines, Tumble Dryer, Fridges, Freezers, Cooking  **University of Bonn: Angelika Schmitz, Farnaz Alborzi and Rainer Stamminger

    Want more? Download the infographic below


    Download the full infographic here

    • 06/03/19
    • Retail
    • Consumer Goods
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • TEMAX
    • Global
    • English

    Clashing consumer trends battle for energy efficiency – pt. 1

    What are really today’s consumer trends when purchasing Technical Consumer Goods (TCG) such as smartphones, computers, TVs or washing machines? Consumer attitudes observed by GfK Consumer Life® as well as the purchase behavior at retail POS provide us with solid evidence that the most impactful drivers for people to make a purchase are:
    1. Performance: Enabler for rich experiences through high end product features
    2. Simplification: Automating recurrent tasks or making tasks more seamless
    3. Premium: Aspirational products making a statement about own identity
    4. Borderless Shopping: Consumers: I want it now!

    More consumer trends with big impact

    Sustainability is another decisive consumer trend, strongly present in the world of domestic appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators. Consumers now seek a significant potential to save energy which means energy labels are an important factor in the decision making process. The energy label in Europe has been a success story in that sense for the past decade – allowing for differentiation of manufacturers as well as contributing to consumers’ peace of mind by saving energy. In 2012, only 24% of appliances in European countries* had an A++/+++ label while the share of sold appliances with “Best-in-Class” labels increased to 62% in 2018. Appliances sold with A+++ rating are washing machines whereas this label is still rare in refrigerators or freezers. But this is only half the truth! On one hand, appliances with comparable size became more efficient in recent years (e.g. Combi fridges with No Frost technology consumed 9% less energy on average in 2018 vs. 2014) whereas on the other hand, more and more consumers turn to larger appliances. Performance is another rising consumer trend when it comes to technical goods. Consumers are also looking rich and convenient experiences, i.e. high capacity fridges helping to stock more food and hence, fewer shopping trips are required. However, more and more consumers feel the responsibility for our environment—global warming initiatives like “Fridays for Future” convey this evolving attitude. GfK’s Consumer Life® study confirms the advance of sustainability: In 2018, 45% of global respondents said that they feel guilty when they do something that is not environmentally friendly. This mindset has grown steadily from 37% in 2015. Obviously, two consumer needs clash here: Sustainability (energy saving) and Performance (energy hungry). Check back for part 2 of this blog to find out how these trends affect energy consumption in home appliances. *Data was acquired from 10 major countries in Europe: AT, BE, DE, ES, FR, GB, IT, NL, PT & SE.

    This blog is a preview of my presentation at
    ECEEE’s Summer Study


    Download the full infographic here

    • 06/03/19
    • Energy
    • TEMAX
    • Global
    • English

    Infographic: Sustainability Trends in European Household Appliances

    What are really important for consumers purchasing Technical Consumer Goods (TCG) such as washing machines, dryers and refrigerators? 
    • 05/08/19
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • TEMAX
    • Global
    • English

    Retail trends and technologies – pt. 2

    In our previous blog on retail trends & technologies, we discussed how retailers can adapt to intelligent retailing and increase their security in retail stores. In this post, we’ll cover how important it is to provide a connected customer experience and steps retailers can take into automation. The consumers of today want to not only make a purchase, but also have a great experience doing so. A rich experience is extremely relevant for shopping behavior—a key factor for retailers. Good experiences can provide additional value and trigger new or additional purchases.

    Retail Trend #3: Creating a seamless shopper experience

    Whether a customer is shopping in a brick and mortar store, at home or on the go, the most adequate experience should be available at all times. In retail trends, round the clock availability and situational independence are slowly becoming the norm. Our GfK FutureBuy study reveals that consumers regard “social media as an important source of information” and “mobile [as] an important tool for making a purchase” which further demonstrates the increasing importance of these experience drivers. Let’s look at different scenarios to describe what it means to provide a connected experience.

    Scenario 1: Connecting online with offline

    Let’s assume different shopper journeys for John. In his first purchase journey, he starts from home using a mobile/tablet to shop online. While browsing, he can use various technologies to help him find what he’s looking for such as:
    1. Voice assistant to bring up a specific item or store
    2. A store’s mobile app and its chatbot assistant
    3. A chatbot through the store’s social media page
    If John selects a product online and decides to collect it at the retail store, we’d call that retail trend “Click and Collect.” But if John schedules an appointment at the store to test the product and then decides to purchase it, he’ll be using the “Click and Reserve” model. If he does go with the “Click and Reserve” option, a trial room would then be available for John to try out the product or the store would provide a consultant to demonstrate the product at a specified time. In case of a fashion or luxury product, the store is equipped with smart mirrors and augmented reality that enables John to try out the products very quickly. If the size or color doesn’t suit him, John can change the item by using the smart mirror & AR features. Alternatively, the store consultant can be informed during the whole process using a chatbot assistant. In this case, the store consultant gets an alert on his digital assistant to provide help to the customer. This enhances John’s shopping experience by saving him the extra effort while the store reduces the risk of damage or theft. Smart mirrors and augmented reality can help shoppers try products quickly In case the product is not available, the store would then have a real-time ERP system and up-to-date information linked to its warehouse that can assist John by telling him the product availability. If the item is available, John can request to get it shipped to his home—called the “Select and Ship” model. Alternatively, he could also schedule another appointment to test it again when it’s in store. This technology could eliminate the issue of a more limited assortment that traditional retailers experience vs. online retailers.

    Scenario 2: Providing transparency and relevance

    While John is walking down the street near a store, he can also receive a message regarding new products or discounts. If John is already an existing customer, he can also get notified of loyalty offers. This is possible using technologies like beacons, Geo-fencing and Near Field Communication (NFC). Retail trends & technology like Geo-targeting can:
    1. Create awareness among consumers who are not yet customers
    2. Retain and up-sell to an existing customer

    Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) and digital signage can help the retailer to efficiently control product information dissemination, pricing and promotions from a central system. Once John is in the shop, he can get to know more about the product using digital screens and signage. Using visual search screens showing the store map, John could search for the product from the screen and can directly go to the appropriate section of the store. A connected shopper experience is as a catalyst for better sales. The two aspects in retail trends that are driving consumer towards online channels include:
    1. Finding products or services that a consumer specifically wants
    2. General information regarding products and services
    Visual search screens showing the store map helps a customer search for the product from the screen

    Scenario 3: Delivering custom products

    If John decides to buy a shirt that he wants tailored, he can use the phone or tablet cameras to scan his measurements and features to order such a custom fit product.

    Scenario 4: Making it fun

    GfK FutureBuy tells us that buying additional items while making a routine purchase is a key driver for the customer to visit the store. If John has a mobile app which contains his shopping list, he frees up time to browse and discover other items for purchase which makes his shopping trip less like a chore. And the fun isn’t just limited to consumers—for store employees, too. Gamification can assist in shelf stocking (like a game) and can motivate the employees to finish their work in the most efficient way. A fun experience for both the customer and employee aids to the success of the retailer.

    Retail Trend #4: Cost savings with automation

    Automation whether it is hardware (e.g. autonomous warehouses and store robots/vehicles) or software (like real-time monitoring algorithms, chatbots, etc.), improves efficiency, saves time and delivers value-added services and a high-tech shopping experience.

    Scenario 1: If it’s mundane, automate it

    Instead of a real-life person, John walks into a store and is greeted by a “Greet and Guide” in-store robot which welcomes and asks questions to guide him to the appropriate section of the store. In case John asks a complicated question, the robot then generates an alert for a store consultant intervention. Another way to use robots in retail is to automate item stock and flaw detection. The value proposition for these robots is to reduce mundane tasks, giving store employees more time for value-added services like consulting the customer and providing excellent service.

    Scenario 2: Anytime, anywhere assistance

    Chatbots are already part of many automated customer support procedures and they can assist customers like John inside the store via the mobile app or social media bots. Chatbots can answer standard questions, help with recommendations, scheduling an appointment (Select & Try model) or assist John in the online purchasing workflow. Retail trends and technologies like automation is all about cutting cost on redundant activities and enabling more time for value-added services. Although automation needs an initial capital investment, cost savings and efficiencies are pegged to be much higher in the long-term.

    It’s all for the consumer

    In conclusion, retail players who align their strategy to incorporate aspects of intelligent retailing, security, creating connected experiences and automation will end up creating a more efficient, secure and transparent value chain that enhances the shopper experience. Adapting to new retail trends and technologies is essential to satiate the highly demanding, informed customer. Want more? Get answers to key business questions at GfK Insights Summit   hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'ede150a7-95fd-41dd-b411-85906a35ab45', {});

Table summary

Western Europe 15 - Q1 2019
Q2 2018 M. EUR Q3 2018 M. EUR Q4 2018 M. EUR Q1 2019 M. EUR Q1 2019 / Q1 2018 / +/- % Q1 2019 M. EUR Q1 2019 / Q1 2018 +/- %
Consumer Electronics (CE) 5,714 5,797 8,969 6,069 -5.2% 6,069 -5.2%
Photography (PH) 986 961 1,110 877 -10.3% 877 -10.3%
Major Domestic Appliances (MDA) 7,951 8,734 9,225 8,463 1.7% 8,463 1.7%
Small Domestic Appliances (SDA) 3,685 4,025 6,014 4,461 4.2% 4,461 4.2%
Information Technology (IT) 12,444 13,600 17,058 14,860 3.9% 14,860 3.9%
Telecommunications (TC) 13,650 15,119 19,444 14,242 3.1% 14,242 3.1%
Office Equipment & Consumables (OE) 3,305 3,161 3,597 3,526 -0.3% 3,526 -0.3%
GfK TEMAX® Western Europe 47,735 51,397 65,417 52,498 1.7% 52,498 1.7%