What do consumers want in an HDTV?

How many consumers base their HDTV purchase decisions around style? At the CEA's Digital Downtown show in New York today, panelists discussed whether consumers will still pay a premium to be fashionable, especially with gas at $4/gallon.

NEW YORK CITY (BetaNews) - Are consumers still willing to pay a premium to keep pace with fashion? Evidently, some CE manufacturers are gambling they will.

John Taylor, LG's VP of public affairs and communications, outlined an elaborate and undoubtedly costly promotional campaign behind LG's latest HDTV, named "Scarlet."

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Hitachi, on the other hand, consulted with other divisions company-wide before creating its new, ultra-thin 1.5-inch LCD display, according to Bill Whalen, Hitachi's director of product development. Whalen said that he even consulted with Hitachi's aeronautical folks about what kind of frame to use for the ultra-thin display.

Do retailers and consumers appreciate these kinds of investments? Leon Temiz, president and CEO of Electronics Expo, said he sticks strictly to "top-tier" brands such as LG and Hitachi with his home theater clients.

In a survey, Temiz' customers rated "looks" as more important than all other criteria in buying an HDTV.

On the other hand, Richard Glikes, executive director of Home Theater Specialists of America, said that his company also sells "second- and third-tier [HDTV]" brands.

Although pricing is lower at the second and third tiers, every HDTV vendor is striving for style, according to Glikes. But picture quality is also important among high-end and more price-conscious consumers alike, the retailers agree.

"Just because someone has money, that doesn't mean he doesn't want value," Temiz noted.

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