By James Wells

SYDNEY: GfK has released data for the first eight months of 2006 which shows that sales of LCD televisions in Australia have grown by 342 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Over the eight month period, ending 31 August, 305,000 LCD televisions were sold worth $580 million in value.

GfK group account director, Derek Nash, told that consumer research conducted through its ConsumerScope service shows what is driving this growth.

“LCD is becoming readily available in a wide range of sizes to suit the various locations of televisions within the home,” Nash said.

“Many consumers also see LCD as the natural replacement to the conventional set. This trend looks likely to continue, which is not good news for those brands simply focused on manufacturing conventional sets or rear projection given the decline in these segments. The most popular size in LCD is 32-35 inches which accounts for over 30 per cent of all LCD sales.”

From the research, Nash found that there is more brand loyalty to plasma televisions than LCDs.

“Another interesting finding is that consumers have less emphasis on brand reputation when purchasing a LCD television, especially when compared to purchasing a plasma – where a positive brand image is critical. This may be due to consumers’ prior experience of non-branded LCD screens outside the home.”

Another factor driving the market is the shift towards high definition screens.

“The ability to watch in high definition is becoming increasingly important, either via high definition television sets or high definition set top boxes. Over 25 per cent of consumers who purchased a LCD television also purchased a high definition set top box at the same time.”

The ConsumerScope report also found that there was a high proportion of online research conducted prior to purchase

“Well over 50 per cent are using the internet to source product information,” Nash said.