By James Wells

Findings from an Australian survey of consumers who upgraded their existing televisions in 2005 have shown a big shift from bulky cathode ray tube (CRT) style screens to flat panel LCD and plasma screens which offer far more shallow dimensions, but can be over 10 times the price of a traditional CRT television.

According to the latest data from GfK ConsumerScope, in the first quarter of 2005, 74 per cent of consumers were upgrading their existing set with a CRT television and 18 per cent were upgrading with a plasma or LCD screen. By the fourth quarter of last year, CRT sales fell to 47 per cent of upgrade purchases and flat panel sales increased to 46 per cent.

According to GfK Australia research project manager, David Griffin, consumers upgrading their television are driving sales of flat screens.

“When looking at the consumers’ reason for purchasing a television, 42 per cent of overall purchases were an upgrade while 38 per cent were purchased as an additional TV, 17 per cent were a replacement purchase and 3 per cent as a first TV," Griffin said.

In 2005, sales of flat screen televisions priced between $2,000 and $4,000 grew by 89 per cent. Flat screens priced above $4,000 grew 44 per cent overall.

According to Griffin, when consumers are spending over $2,000 on their new television they are being driven by a desire for newer technology (43 per cent) and larger screens (28 per cent), but not price.

“Consumers are showing that now prices have reached the $2,000 to $4,000, they are prepared to spend money on this new technology to receive its benefits,” Griffin said.