Western Europe: growing technical consumer goods market

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Results of GfK Temax show that in the fourth quarter of 2014 the Western European technical consumer goods market generated sales growth of 3.5% compared to Q4 2013, reaching approximately €60.5 billion. The whole of 2014 was also successful with a sales increase of 2.1%, and a total volume of nearly €201.2 billion. In terms of growth, the front runner was the telecommunications sector. Smartphones remained the driving force of the market and accounted for double-digit growth rates in Q4 2014. However, this growth partly (and negatively) influenced sales in the photography sector. In terms of individual countries, namely Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, the UK and especially Greece developed positively.

Telecommunications: wearables, a popular Christmas present
Compared to the same period of last year, the telecommunications market in Western Europe generated a sales increase of 13.5% in Q4 2014. Understandably, sales were driven higher by the Christmas period. The total turnover between October and December amounted to €14.9 billion. Sales in the whole of 2014 amounted to €46.8 billion which accounted for an increase of 5.7% over the previous year. While the Austrian market fell, the other Western European countries saw positive development, with most of them recording solid, double-digit growth. Successful product launches of flagship models helped to grow sales value in the fourth quarter. In addition to this, wearable devices – smart watches, health and fitness trackers – became popular as Christmas gifts for the first time.

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Small domestic appliances: overall trend still positive
In the fourth quarter of 2014, the Western European market for small domestic appliances achieved growth of 5.8%, up to €4.4 billion. For the whole of 2014, total sales amounted to €13.8 billion and the market grew by 5.9%, compared to 2013. All countries contributed to this development with the exception of Belgium (with a small decrease) and Greece which had a slight drop in sales volume. Sales drivers were, on the one hand, younger product variants such as robotic vacuum cleaners or low-oil deep fryers. On the other hand, classic appliances – traditional kitchen machines, water kettles and fully automatic espresso machines – grew at an above average rate. Increases in the Western European SDA market were apparent across a broad range of products.

Major domestic appliances: 2014, the year of tumble dryers
Sales in the Major domestic appliances segment increased to a volume of €8.6 billion. This corresponded to an improvement of 5.6%. This growth was based on positive developments across all countries, except for Sweden and Belgium. Total sales volume in 2014 amounted to nearly €31.9 billion, corresponding to an increase of 4.2%. All product groups saw positive development in the fourth quarter of 2014. The clear winner, however, was the tumble dryers segment, which generated double-digit growth between October and November. Crucial to that growth was the high demand for energy-efficient and cost-saving devices following a significant drop in prices.

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Information technology: computing market returned to growth
In Q4 2014, the Western European market for information technology grew by 1%, up to €16.9 billion. In the whole of 2014, the total market volume reached €56.3 billion and registered 1.4% growth. It was primarily the German market which kept this market segment growing in the fourth quarter of 2014. Customers were focused on convenient “2-in-1” devices and computing tablets. Reasonable pricing, an increased portfolio and an easy-to-use approach helped to support this demand. The positive trend in the computing market also influenced the growth rate of peripheral devices and software.

Consumer electronics: market recovery in 2014
In the fourth quarter of 2014, the Western European market for consumer electronics declined slightly by 2.1%, compared to the same period of the previous year. Between October and December, the turnover amounted to €10 billion. Full year results were, however, positive with marginal growth of 0.6% and a total sales volume of €31.5 billion. Innovations helped to drive the TV market in 2014. UHD/4k – with four times the resolution of full HD – larger screens, and smart TVs, combined with an increasing availability of streaming content, drove sales. The audio market continued to grow, driven in particular by any wireless technology that could be used to transfer music to either speakers or headphones.

Office equipment and consumables: positive trend in the multifunctional devices market
The office equipment and consumables market faced a sales decrease of 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014, down to €4 billion. The year-on-year development was also negative with a drop in sales of 1.5% reported for the whole of 2014, compared to the previous year. The total sales volume in 2014 amounted to €15.2 billion. On a country level, France in particular faced a strong sales decline. The markets in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Greece, however, saw positive developments. The demand for printing hardware remained negative, following the pattern of previous years. However, sales in the multifunctional devices segment are on the move – both for inkjet, as well as for laser appliances. Although, this positive trend was not enough to turn the negative spiral into a positive one, it does allow for a cautiously positive outlook for 2015.

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Photography*: strong competition from smartphones
The photography sector recorded a sales volume of €1.5 billion in Q4 2014. On a year-on-year basis, this corresponded to a double-digit fall of 15.4%. The overall development in 2014 was also negative with a sales decline of 16.5%, down to a total volume of €5.6 billion. Although some recent growing demand for devices with high-value technical equipment was noted, this did not compensate for falls in other segments. In particular, basic compact system cameras are facing growing competition from smartphones, which continue to be equipped with improving picture quality.
*Photography includes cameras and accessories