The biggest European market

White goods steeply rising in Germany


The export is decreasing, owing to the general economic situation, but the German one is still the most relevant market in Europe.

Benno Scharf

With 80.4 million inhabitants in June 2013, Germany is the most populous Country in the European Union and the second in Europe after Russia. In both nations, however, the demographic balance is negative and populations are decreasing; in the German case, since 2003 until today, the decrease has amounted to about one million inhabitants.  The German per head income, however, is one of the highest, with an average of 39,000 dollars per year.

The German market of household appliances, both of white and brown goods, is the most relevant in Europe, with a global value in 2012 of about 12.2 billion Euros in final prices for the first, of 14.8 billions for the second. The market of white goods is constantly rising and in 2012 it surpassed the value of the previous year by about 3%. We cannot affirm the same thing for consumer electronics: here 2012 was affected by the 1.3% downturn versus 2011. It is anyway worth specifying that these figures are referred to consumer electronics in the strict sense of the term, that’s to say video and audio products, excluding the new tablets, smartphones etc… Including also the latter, the global value of the market almost doubles, reaching 28 billion Euros in 2012, with a neatly rising trend.

White goods
In 2012 the German trade association Zvei changed the survey criteria of the sale data of household appliances, turning the previous classification in value into a new one based on the piece number. Obviously, this makes impossible the comparison between the figures concerning the last year and those referred to the past ones. According to Zvei “there are stable framework conditions and trends, which maintain the demand for washing machines, refrigerators and cookers at a high level. The good business trend enjoyed by the building industry is part of it; it positively influences the demand for kitchens and related appliances. Also the replacement of obsolete household appliances is a further short-term business factor, because consumers assign a lot of importance to furniture and to the use comfort. Finally, the energy efficiency remains very important because low-consumption appliances allow facing better the rise of electricity prices.

In 2012 there was a growth by about four percent, then exceeding the average of the German market, for some small appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, electrical coffeepots and kitchen robots. An important role in favour of consumers was played by the aesthetical shape and by the used materials, in addition to the energy efficiency.”

Less satisfactory is the situation of export, worsened also by the general economic crisis that struck a big part of Europe. Since about two thirds of the German export of household appliances reach European Countries, the total export has fallen by 2%, dropping to 7.4 billion Euros. In spite of that, Germany remains however one of the biggest producers in the sector.

The diffusion percentage of the main appliances remains one of the highest: washing machine, refrigerator and vacuum-cleaner are present in almost all houses while the microwave oven reaches the 80% of presence and the dishwasher exceeds 70%; freezer and dryer equip the two thirds of houses.

Brown goods
The key figures of the field: 9.6 million TV sets and 7.2 million digital cameras.
The consumer electronic market grew until 2008, afterwards a slow decrease started, with the downturn by -2.2% in 2008, by – 0.3% in 2010 and by -3.2% in 2011, to come to -1.3% in 2012.
The reason for that is the gradual saturation of the German market, thanks to the high diffusion rate of almost all appliances on one hand, the competition of new informatics products on the other hand.

In the TV set ambit, LCD types are 94% of the total and maintain a good market solidity; the trend of the latter is however negative owing to the drop of plasma types, which are gradually disappearing. Slightly dropping (-1.1%) is also the class of DVD Players and Video-recorders; in it, the first constitute anyway 89% of the total. A neat downturn affects on the contrary digital cameras (-13%). They are however almost completely replacing camcorders. Final, the audio sector shows crisis signs, with sale drops of almost all products, excluding non-portable ones.

On the contrary, competing products, smart-phones and tablets, attained exceptional growth rates: by 26% the first and even by 132% the second. The sold quantities respectively amounted to 18.4 millions and to 3.3 million pieces.

The diffusion rate of electronic consumer products mirrors the good economic situation of the Country. The cable television reaches 46% of German houses and the same is true for video games. The satellite antenna is present in its turn in 46% of houses. Relatively modest is anyway the presence of camcorders, which does not exceed 22%. It is anyway worth reminding that the cold climate of winter periods obviously induces consumers to equip their houses with all domestic entertainment possibilities.

For white goods ZVEI states: “We have started 2013 with certain optimism. The framework conditions will remain stable and we think that the home market will maintain at least its high level. Besides, it seems likely a slight growth of the German market by about two percent both for big and small appliances”.
The prospects are worse for export. Here we expect a static situation in the best case, neither excluding anyway a slight drop.
Different the situation of brown goods. The competition of tablets and smartphones will be increasingly felt and the current trend of slight decrease is expected to continue also in 2013, with a forecast global drop that ranges from 1% to 2%.


Washing machines 2.9
Dryers 1.0
Dishwashers 2.2
Ovens and cookers 2.1
Cooking hobs 1.9
Suction hoods 1.4
Refrigerators 3.1
Freezers 0.8
Total 15.4

Source: Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie (ZVEI)


TV sets  9.6
Video recorders, DVD Players   3.1
Camcorders   0.5
Digital Still Cameras   7.2
Home audio   2.6
Portable audio/DVD   3.8
Car multimedia   4.1
Recording media   4.8
Videogames and consoles   2.6
Total 38.3

Source: gfu 

Diffusion percentage of some electronic appliances in german houses in 2012 (%)

TV set 97
Of which: satellite antenna 43
Cable TV 46
DVD Player/Recorder 72
Camcorder 22
MP3 Player 42
CD Player 78
Video console 46

Source: Destatis (German Government Statistic Body)