Meet the Typical Electronics Consumer

EMarketer: Americans Spend an Average of $1,200 Annually on Gadgets -- but Don't Understand Much of the Tech They're Buying

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Americans love gadgets and gizmos. We own an average of 25 consumer electronics, and we'll spend another $1,200 this year acquiring more.

Yet average Americans are pretty perplexed by their gadgets. "People love to buy them, but then they can't get them to work," said eMarketer analyst Lisa Phillips, author of the just-released study "Consumer Electronics Online: Converged or Confused?"

No wonder. Marketers pitch consumer electronics by hyping their complex technology; every camera ad talks megapixels, every flat-screen-TV spot goes on about 720p or 1080i. Even mobile-phone marketers tout Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

When it comes to explaining it all, marketers have a long way to go, according to eMarketer. In the meantime, consumers will likely keep doing research online, sifting through manufacturers' advertising and or returning or rejecting stuff they just don't understand.
Amount spent on online advertising by consumer-electronics makers in the U.S. last year, including display ads, paid search and rich media. That's roughly 32% of total annual ad spending for the category, way higher than the average U.S. company's 5.9% online ad outlay.
Illustrations by Felix Sockwell
Percent of people who researched electronics purchases online before buying. Ironically, it's also the exact percentage that ultimately bought those items at a bricks-and-mortar store.
Percent of households in the U.S. that will have broadband internet access this year. That percentage is expected to go up to 90% by 2011. (Six percent of households will still have dial-up then, with the remaining 4% having no internet access at all.)
Average annual income of 31% of visitors to online appliance and electronics sites. Another 30% were in the $30,000-$60,000 income range, while 19% made less than $30,000, and 20% made more than $100,000.
Percent of consumers who thought it was important for online retailers to have complete product information. Only 55% said they would bother to go directly to the manufacturer's website to find the information themselves if it wasn't at an online store.
The average amount of time a consumer spends trying to set up a device before giving up. More than half of the electronics devices returned to stores last year were in perfect working order.
Amount of consumers polled who could not define the term "digital home." Once told what it was, 90% said it would be "very expensive" to set up.
Percent of TV sets in the U.S. that receive no cable or satellite programming.
Percent of people who would buy a high-definition TV set if there were significant price drops. Only 21% said they'd buy for improved picture and audio quality.
Percent of "advocates" -- defined as well-connected people who believe good brands are worth talking about -- who recommended a recent electronics purchase to a friend, easily topping those who recommended cars (67%) and home loans (66%).
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