Editorial: Runs on the board

Editorial: Runs on the board

In an attempt to give its latest research figures a bit of shine, market analyst firm GfK has hitched a ride on the back of an enthralling cricket series to bring us the Digital Ashes. And just like it was with bat and ball, it seems the Poms have a slight edge on the Aussies in a fiercely fought contest. But more of that later.

Behind the statistical fun (and if that isn't an oxymoron then I have never heard one) the numbers provide an early indication of what consumer-focused resellers should be stocking their shelves with in time for the Christmas rush - digital cameras, DVD hardware and digital audio devices were the biggest January-June sellers and look sure to be the leading categories for this year's festive season.

Overall, GfK's latest bi-annual Canon Digital Lifestyle Index (CDLI) estimated Australians spent $941 million on digital gadgets and gizmos in the first six months of the year. This was an increase of 23 per cent on the same six-month period a year earlier.

Digital still cameras continue to lead the way, accounting for almost one third of that spending at $288 million. DVD hardware was next with $174 million (18 per cent of total spend), followed by $158 million (16.8 per cent) on digital audio devices.

Camcorders, inkjet printers and games consoles all saw revenues fall when compared to the same period of 2004. The latter is hardly surprising given next year's widely anticipated release of Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360. But you can be sure PlayStation Portable and its associated software will be another big hit this Christmas.

Now it's back to the Digital Ashes, which saw GfK comparing the percentage of Aussies and Brits to have bought devices by category. The English built a fairly significant lead opening with DVD hardware (5.1 per cent to 4.3 per cent), which you could say is hardly surprising when you consider the British weather and Australia's love of the great outdoors. But that argument fails to stand up when you read that 1.4 per cent of Australians bought games consoles in the same period compared to just 0.9 per cent of Britains. I for one would have banked on the Brits to win that category.

The UK held a slender lead (3.5 per cent compared to 3.3 per cent) when it came to buying digital cameras but more Aussies were wired for sound, with 2.8 per cent of the population buying digital audio devices compared to 2.6 per cent in Britain.

Overall, the similarity in spending patterns was probably the most striking aspect of the comparison. And no matter which hemisphere consumer-oriented resellers are plying their trade in this Christmas, it looks like this will be a year where the difference between a bumper season and a damp squib will be effective cross-selling. Every time somebody walks out of your store with a new digital camera or MP3 player and no accessories must be viewed as a missed opportunity to sell a wide range of memory cards, printers, headphones and cases. Just like a game of cricket, extras can make all the difference at the end of the day.

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