By Claire Reilly
As Australians gear up for the Olympics at the end of July and tonight's start to the UEFA European Football Championship (lovingly referred to by some in the Current.com.au team as the Euro), many consumers are looking to upgrade their TV to catch the action.
In the LED TV category, one of the biggest trends this year (quite literally) is increasing screen sizes. With most suppliers now offering 54- or 55-inch screens (equating to almost 1.5 metres in diagonal measurement) large screens are now standard. But the growth isn’t stopping there.
“Without a doubt, the 54-inch market has shown the greatest growth, and that’s only going to get bigger and bigger,” said Mark Beard, national marketing manager at Sharp. “Screen sizes are in keeping with the types of homes that are being built: they’re getting bigger and they all have entertaining rooms. Bigger is better.
“Generally, the Australian public has always gone bigger and better when the affordability has been there. So it has to be affordable.”
While Sharp currently has a 70-inch model on the market – that’s a measurement of almost 6 feet across the screen – there are plans to go larger still.
“In august we’ll launch an 80-inch model, and then there’s a 90-inch not too far away,” said Beard. “Screen size is our point of difference. We’ll kick off an awareness campaign through the July/August period, where we’ll be promoting the 70-inch and bigger.
“With the current sporting activities that are happening, including Euro 2012, the Summer Olympics, plus the normal sporting comps and cricket in summer – typically these big sporting events are a catalyst for people to go buy a television. We are the broadcast sponsor for the Euro 2012, so we’ll be driving that sponsorship too.”
The trend towards larger screen sizes is something that is already filtering down to the retail floor.
“Big screen TVs are popular – because people are saying, 'Let’s go for a better product, get a bigger TV and have more fun at home',” said Steven Ortt, owner of Bundaberg Betta Home Living. “So the home theatre and big screen experience is still very strong.
“The trend at the moment is 60-inch plus screen sizes, and that’s starting to make really big inroads. 50-inch 18 months ago was selling like ‘wow’ – 50-inch and 55-inch were the hottest sizes on the market. Now 60-inch plus is.
“And $1,000 three years ago would get you nothing, whereas now, $1,000 will get you a 60-inch TV in some brands.”
But larger screens aren’t necessarily a win for all retailers. One retailer who spoke to Current.com.au said that many smaller stores in regional and rural towns can’t afford to stock the more extravagant television models, which many larger stores are using to claw back margins in the TV category.
“Everything’s getting cheaper, but small stores can’t put $4,000 TVs in their stores to try and get some gross profit back,” the store owner said. “They haven’t got enough room. You’ve got the advertised lines, and that’s killing you.”
For more information on flat panel TVs, turn to the LED TV Feature in the June issue of Appliance Retailer magazine.