Americans remain wary about HDTV: Research

MUMBAI: While content providers in the US are studying how the advent of HDTV will impact the entertainment landscape, research conducted by global market research firm Ipsos Insight shows that many consumers are still hesitant about this new technology.

It is not a matter of basic awareness. While 90 per cent of all Americans have heard of HDTV, only 47 per cent say that they know anything substantial about it. Only 15 per cent say that they are somewhat or very likely to get HDTV. These were the same levels in 2004.

Among the fairly static group of US consumers that report familiarity with HDTV in the past year, the perceived benefits have remained quite high. The critical issue today is that many consumers know HDTV exists, but haven't been convinced that it offers enough benefit to justify replacing their current TV sets. Some of the reluctance to become more familiar with HDTV may have to do with this 'worth it' hurdle.

The ‘worth it’ hurdle means the incremental benefit to the consumer, balanced against the cost and hassle of experiencing that benefit, including evaluating alternatives, learning how to use the new technology, and any 'hidden' costs like upgraded receiver boxes.

The report notes that awareness levels have topped out as the range of HDTV-related technology products and services are promoted by HDTV. The research firm sees both the need and an opportunity to develop the market beyond the early adopter stage, to create mainstream momentum.

Most survey respondents familiar with HDTV recall having seen an ad for HDTV in the past month (84 per cent), and three quarters (74 per cent) have looked into the capability in store.

The study notes that the lack of growth in consumers’ HDTV purchase intentions in the past three years suggests that the value proposition hasn’t been made compelling to enough consumers yet. Marketers and advertisers who can get consumers over the ‘worth-it’ hurdle will reap the benefits of this exciting new technology.

At some point, the firms who have invested in this technology have to amortise that investment, and sooner or later that has to entail further reductions in price points that turn ‘theoretical’ margin into actual margin.

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