Over three days of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 8-11, our team randomly distributed surveys to attendees in the convention's Central Hall. In all, we received 229 responses. The following report summarizes the results of the survey and offers an analysis of the trends on display.
The first set of questions related to the attendees and their participation in CES.
Roughly half of the respondents, 47%, were first time visitors to the CES. 18% were at their second CES, and 35% has been to more than two.
A large majority of respondents, 69%, said they came looking for products they like. Only 6% said they came to watch the crowd, and 17% said they came as fans of the CES. Among the 4% of people who said they had other reasons for attending, most said they came to network or find new business contacts.
Almost half of the respondents, 48%, said they were not frequent consumer electronics show visitors. 36% were regular show-goers, and 17% said it depended on what kind of show and where it took place.
Most of the respondents, 82%, felt that there was a lot at the show that they liked. Only 7% said they were disappointed in the products on display, while 12% reported that the found one item that stood out from an otherwise unremarkable show.
CES attracts a wide and diverse crowd. First time attendees were the largest group, and included people curious about products, people interested in the spectacle of a huge electronics show, and employees of the exhibitors who were working their first show. Among veteran show-goers more than half of those who had been to more than two had been coming for five years or more. Those who had been to ten or more often made a point of saying so.
People looking for products they like included people curious about the next hot items, technology enthusiasts, and professional buyers. The broad phrasing of the answer choice allowed people with different motivations to select the same answer. While not many people said they came to see the crowd, the research team frequently heard informal comments about the size, diversity, and entertainment value of the crowd.
We suspect a greater percentage of respondents would have said they were at CES to network and make connections had that been included as one of the offered answers to the question. As it was, when people offered an "other" response, almost all of those responses were about meeting new people and business contacts.
A large majority found something to like at the CES. While the research team heard some comments about a lack of breakthrough new products, the improvements to familiar items and the incredible diversity of products available at such a large show meant there was something for almost everyone to appreciate. Frequently cited examples included TVs, gaming devices, and gesture capture technology.
A second set of questions related to consumer choices and purchasing decisions.
Fully 93% of respondents said that their families care about consumer electronics, and 90% said that they would put electronics products on their shopping list. Only 7% said that their families were not fans of consumer electronics, and only 10% said they did not plan to add electronics to their family shopping list.
Within the next two years, 96% of respondents plan to buy consumer electronics products, and 17% plan to buy a lot. Only 3% do not expect to buy any products within two years.
A majority of respondents, 61%, reported that decisions about purchasing electronics products were made by the men in the household, while 30% reported that women made these decisions. 4% admitted that their children often had significant influence over the purchasing decisions.
The two top categories of interest, by a large margin, were audio/video and mobile communication with 66% and 64% of respondents, respectively, expressing interest in these types of products. Besides these two, interest was fairly evenly divided between household electrical appliances, 14%, automobile electronics, 12%, and security electronics, 14%. 7% of respondents said they were interest in products in categories not mentioned here.
In terms of their own satisfaction using electronics products, the responses were largely in line with the respondents' interests. 48% said they are most satisfied with audio and video products, with slightly more, 54%, reporting satisfaction with mobile communication products. 12% reported household appliances as most satisfying, 16% said auto electronics, and 2% answered security electronics.
Quality and service were what a majority of respondents, 57%, valued in electronics products. This was followed by 43% who said they valued usefulness, 17% who cited brand name reputation, and 8% who valued the look and packaging of the product.
Looking to the future trends, 48% said they expect consumer electronics will continue to get more personalized, 41% said they will be easier to use, and only 28% said they expect to get better quality and service.
People who would choose to come to the CES or are there on business are usually immersed in consumer electronics culture, so it is not surprising that they come from families where there is high interest and are motivated to purchase electronics products. The timeframe of two years in which people plan to buy electronics is a very long time given the rapid pace of advancements and the speed with which products become obsolete, so the high number of attendees planning on making purchases is likewise predictable.
While data was not specifically collected on this variable, our research team noticed that a larger majority of the male respondents said that males make the purchasing decisions, and female respondents were more likely than males to say that women made the purchasing decisions. The presence of more males than females at the CES overall is likely to have skewed the results somewhat, but the higher attendance rate of males itself suggests a more active interest on their part. Most people who answered that children made the purchasing decisions did so either sheepishly or with a bit of humor.
The two top categories in terms of attendee interest, audio/video and mobile communications, contain products that many people use every day and are very familiar with. The other categories appeal to a subset of enthusiasts, or people working in those product areas, or people whose work and chores revolve around such categories of products.
While many respondents selected more than one category in describing both their interest and their satisfaction, there was a drop off in satisfaction reported compared to interest in every category except automobile electronics. Especially sharp was the difference between the 66% who are interested in audio and video, and the less than half, 48%, who report it as most satisfying.
The reported percentages of satisfaction with particular categories should not be taken to suggest that, for instance, only 2% are satisfied with their security devices, because the question was worded to ask about "most satisfying." While people are very satisfied when their houses are secure, this is often in the background of awareness, while the pleasures of, for example, playing with a new gaming device, are easy to recognize.
In considering the improvements likely in the future, respondents were hopeful about the further personalization of technology, enabling individual needs to be more directly satisfied. Many also expected electronics to become easier to use, though our researchers heard many dissenting comments about how complicated many of the products on display were. There was noticeably less expectation that quality and service would improve. As well, we heard some comments about how the high quality products on display were outside of the price range that most people can afford, and so the advances in quality were not as relevant to most consumers as they are to early adopters and brand managers. Overall though, there was a strong sense that companies were consistently and rapidly improving their products.
A third set of questions related to the attendees' understanding of Chinese brands.
A very high 93% of respondents reported that they had purchased consumer electronic products made in China. Only 4% said they had not.
In terms of brand recognition, Haier and Lenovo were the Chinese companies with the highest scores, with over 50% of respondents saying they were familiar with them. These were followed by 14% for Konka and 10% for Founder. 18% of respondents said that they knew of other Chinese brands besides these.
Given the role of Chinese factories in manufacturing electronics, most respondents recognized that many of their favorite products were wholly or partially made in China. Only a small handful of respondents said they would not purchase Chinese-made products.
Haier was frequently recognized as the number one brand for household appliances, and many people said they had a growing awareness of Haier's high definition televisions. Many people specifically mentioned the innovations in eye control, gesture capture, and brain wave technology as reasons they knew about the Haier brand.
Lenovo was primarily recognized for their IT and their notebook computers.
The other Chinese companies were recognized significantly less frequently.
Our research team further focused on the Haier brand and its CES display to ask some more in-depth questions about attendees' awareness and their attitudes towards Chinese companies.
Over half of the respondents, 57%, in our survey were aware of Haier as a brand. Attendees who had been to two or more CES shows had nearly all heard of the company, and expressed largely favorable opinions. It was perceived by many as a growing brand with a very diverse range of products. Several respondents mentioned that Haier was a reasonably-priced competitor with Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, and other large international brands. People were most familiar with Haier's major household appliances, but several people specifically mentioned that they were seeing Haier televisions more frequently in their travels. Industry professionals came to the CES display to see particular innovations in Haier products, especially in the way people interact with their consumer electronics. Haier's facial recognition, eye-control TV, gesture capture, and brain wave interaction devices were specific items of interest that people sought out. Casual CES visitors were primarily attracted by the large display of high definition televisions as well as the complete set of life solutions demonstrated by the Haier brand. A large majority of respondents agreed that Haier's presence at the CES increased their awareness and appreciation for the products on display, and that the company was likely in the future to increase their market share in America. Some respondents said that in some technical areas, Haier has led the industry trends.
Want to see the future of car technology?
Brian Cooley found it for you at CES 2017 in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.