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CEA Research: More Consumers Going Online to Research Tech Accessories, but Still Buying In Stores

Arlington, VA – September 23, 2015 – 
Almost two-thirds of U.S. consumers (62 percent) and more than three-quarters of millennials (77 percent) now go online via computer or mobile device to learn about tech accessories before deciding which product to buy, according to new research from the  Consumer Electronic Association (CEA)®. The 2nd Annual Accessories at Retail study, which examines how and where consumers are purchasing their tech accessories, shows the digital age is making it easier for consumers to research tech products—although fewer U.S. consumers are making their final purchases online using a computer (30 percent) or mobile (seven percent).
Why Tech Accessories
Accessories represent five percent of consumer tech industry revenues, driven in part by the continued growth and success of devices such as smartphones. According to CEA’s latest U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts report, revenues for the accessory category (excluding headphones) will reach roughly $9.6 billion in 2015—a four percent increase from last year. Unit and revenue growth for smartphone cases, chargers and portable chargers are expected to see double digit growth. The continued popularity of wireless phone accessories, in addition to headphones and earphones, are also supporting the U.S. accessories market. 

The Tech Accessories Purchase Journey
When making an unplanned purchase, consumers say store displays (31 percent), recommendations by friends or family (29 percent), and a helpful salesperson (10 percent) are the top drivers for in-store tech accessories purchases. However, more consumers – especially millennials – are researching upcoming tech purchases online using a computer or mobile device.

“Consumers want to ask questions and get demonstrations during the purchasing process,” said Steve Koenig, senior director, market research, CEA. “Online and physical retailers, along with manufacturers, need to look for innovative ways to accomodate this dynamic. As more and more consumers use their mobile devices to find and purchase accessories, features like live chats, short video demos or online tutorials can help retailers increase the likelihood of winning the sale.”
Why Consumers Are Shopping Online
According to CEA’s research, consumers’ top reasons for shopping online via a computer or mobile device are price, convenience and ease of browsing. But fewer than one in 10 (seven percent) use “click to purchase” via mobile. As the frequency of online research and purchasing continued to grow, CEA market research offers insights to help retailers adapt to this more popular consumer path. For instance, the majority of consumers using a mobile device to purchase tech accessories use an e-commerce website (57 percent) or retailer’s mobile app (51 percent). Now more than ever, an increase in online presence – and shopping apps in particular – will be important in meeting consumers wherever their purchase journey takes them.
CEA’s 2nd Annual Accessories at Retail study was designed and formulated by CEA, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer electronics industry. Please cite any information to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The complete report is available for free to CEA member companies at Non-members may purchase the study at the CEA Store.

About the Consumer Technology Assocation

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the technology trade association representing the $285 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative and regulatory advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces CES – The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at, and on social.