Chinese consumers opt for bigger TVs than Americans
Web posted at: 10/24/2009 9:5:46
Source ::: FINANCIAL TIMES
By Robin Kwong
in Taipei and Kathrin Hille in Beijing
As calls mount for Chinese consumers to spend more to help fix global imbalances, it appears they have learnt at least one lesson from their US counterparts - bigger is better when it comes to flat-screen televisions.
During Chinas Golden Week national holidays this month, a shopping season similar to Thanksgiving in the US, the average size of flat-screen TV sets sold was above 37 inches - firmly ahead of the US average, according to industry executives and analysts.
China is on average buying the biggest TVs in the world, said Paul Peng, executive vice-president at AU Optronics, the worlds third-biggest flat-panel maker. Henry Wang, general manager of WitsView, a research firm, said the average screen size of LCD TVs sold in China had risen from 33.6 inches in September mainly because of a strong marketing push for 42-inch TVs by Chinese vendors.
In North America, the average size of TVs sold this year was 33.14 inches, down from 33.29 inches last year, according to DisplaySearch. The global average is 32.83 inches this year.
While recession-stricken consumers in US and Europe are scaling back on ostentatious purchases, Chinese consumers, spurred on by government stimulus measures such as rebates on home appliances, have given retailers at home a bumper holiday.
Peng said official Chinese data showed 26m TV sets were sold in China between September 26 and October 8, 120 percent more than last year.
Everyone in China says those figures underestimate the actual situation... retailers say that for a lot of brands, 37-inch and 42-inch models were sold out by October 2, he added.
LJ Chen, chief executive of AU Optronics, said the sales proved China is not necessarily entirely composed of the low-end market, like most people think.
Chinas fast-growing flat-screen TV marketmakes up nearly a fifth of the global market, and is expected to soon overtake the US as the worlds biggest.
Chinese vehicle sales are outpacing the US this year, because of the severe downturn in the American market.
Chinese consumption remains low as a percentage of economic output but the growth in the numbers of people with the capacity to spend is now having a transformative impact on many sectors.