U.S. consumers spend less on electronics

U.S. consumer electronics demand has been hit hard by the recession as Americans plan on spending 17 percent less on tech gadgets than they did a year ago.

Market researcher International Data Corp. said the projected decline in the U.S. is the largest among the 20 countries in its ConsumerScape 360 degree study. But countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China are expected to lead an increase in household spending on consumer electronics — with spending gains of more than 20 percent in each of those countries.

Though U.S. consumers are spending less, they still own more consumer electronics gadgets than those in other countries at 15.4 devices per household. American consumers still spend on high-end devices with more features and functions than consumers in other markets.

IDC groups consumers into six segments: engaged hipsters, who are young and trendy and buy the coolest and latest devices; tech evangelists who are the most adept and influential users; savvy sale shoppers who buy if the price is right; impulse buyers with high incomes who buy what catches their eye; socially conscious basic buyers who are family and environmentally focused and don’t buy what they don’t need; and disengaged functionalists who have low-income and little interest in consumer electronics. IDC found that more than half of the Americans are basic buyers — disengaged functionalists and savvy sale shoppers. The disengaged functionalists are 34 percent of the population, compared to 16 percent on a worldwide basis.

“The survey found U.S. consumers to be extremely price sensitive, a clear sign that the economic downturn has had an impact not only on spending habits, but also on consumer psychology,” said Michael DeHart, director of IDC’s ConsumerScape 3600 and Consumer Primary Research. “At the same time, U.S. consumers are far less likely to buy simple, basic devices, which is indicative of the population’s strong affinity for consumer electronics.”

IDC noted certain trends that consumer electronics makers can exploit. Americans are shifting toward laptop computers, away from desktops. Only 28 percent of U.S. households own a smartphone. There is an opportunity to target consumers with different budgets, data plans and features to help spread smartphone adoption.

More than half of Americans now own high-definition TVs, and the growth is expected to continue.