Feature Article - September/October 2013

Merchandise Trends

Consumers Choosing What They Want, Not What They Need

By Deborah L. Vence

Electronics & Cameras

In the electronics category, redemptions for larger-size televisions are occurring, too, as the point value for these types of products comes down.

"Redemptions for televisions that feature 3-D, LED and smart technology, which allows for the support of downloading apps, content search functions, a web browser and other online services are a big trend," said Haig Vartivarian, electronics purchasing manager, Rymax Marketing Services Inc. "Tablets are also extremely popular as they are replacing the traditional home computer. Instead of sharing as a family, each individual family member now has his/her own tablet."

Van Dyke noted that in the IRF's most recent pulse study, electronics still tops the chart, with 61 percent of planners incorporating them into their programs. Also, apparel, golf items, jewelry, watches and luggage came right behind, with between 44 percent and 50 percent of planners incorporating one or more of them into their programs.

In the camera category, a larger number of redemptions are happening for "additional zoom lenses and flashes, as many participants are opting to make their current SLR camera more robust instead of replacing it with a newer model, providing a savings while getting more functionality and upgrades to stay current," Vartivarian noted.

He added, though, that point-and-shoot cameras are falling in popularity.

"With camera phones becoming more and more advanced, it is eliminating the need for people to carry both. Especially among the younger population, built-in wi-fi and tough water- and shock-proof cameras have started to replace point-and-shoots. Wi-fi-enabled cameras allow users to share HD video and pictures from virtually anywhere," he said.

"It allows users to send pictures or videos to friends right from their camera and post them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or to a PC, a feature that is extremely popular with millennials and gen Z. Another trendy feature is that many of these cameras will allow you to share the photos with other wi-fi-enabled cameras, so you can send the pictures from your camera to a friend's camera with just a touch," he added.

Van Dyke also noted that "everywhere computing" is another trend the IRF is tracking.

"As the ability to put computing functionality in smaller and smaller devices increases, we will start moving quickly from simply a mobile computing society with an 'app for everything,' to a society with an 'app in everything,' she said. "Sensor-enabled and wearable technologies—in everything from cameras to sunglasses to watches—are already a reality in many instances."

Moreover, Hinda Incentives' top 10 list this year showed that for the first time since the company has been compiling its "Top Ten List of Most Redeemed Items," electronics account for nine slots with the Amazon.com Kindle Fire 7-inch 16GB HD Tablet coming in at No. 1. Apple appears on the list three times with its iPad, iPad Mini and Apple TV.

"Apple continues to be a favorite with participants due to their product's great features and vast amount of content through iTunes," said Jim Valenti, director of merchandising and replenishment at Hinda, in a July press release.