Those are some of the insights from a survey by Hitachi's San Diego-based Consumer Group, which markets high-definition plasma televisions and monitors, LCD projection and flat panel HDTVs, LCD projectors, and DVD camcorders.
The nationwide telephone survey by Hitachi and Washington, DC-based KRC Research polled 1,055 adults 18 and older between May 18 and 21, 2007. The survey suggests that 78% of consumers will move up to HDTV--and probably the flat-panel variety--when they buy their next TV, and that women are driving more purchases.
Some 85% of consumers earning over $35,000 are interested in HDTV, the survey found, and nearly 70% making below $35,000 are interested. But the company says that two-thirds of consumers "would not be comfortable explaining the various HDTV options in the market."
Seven in ten women say they are confused by the options, compared to half of men--although nearly half the households reported that women are equally or more responsible for researching big electronics purchases.
Daniel Lee, vice president of marketing at Hitachi consumer electronics, says the results vindicate the company's decision to focus marketing messages on women, but concedes that consumers' lack of savvy about technology means consumer education will be critical to marketing.
Lee said Hitachi, which lacks the budget of companies like Sony, Panasonic and Samsung, will focus efforts on consumer education, retail training, and promotions to achieve sell-through.
Hitachi, which underwent a management shakeup in Japan last year, has reportedly increased its U.S. marketing budget in the past year and will do likewise this year.
The company is aiming to grow its share of the U.S. market from 5% to 10% this year and expand its HDTV line to 16 units. Lee, who came to Hitachi a year ago after overseeing U.S. marketing for Hitachi unit Maxell USA, said research about individuals and households entering the market for high-tech TVs is critical as the industry goes digital in 2009 and 2010.
For Hitachi, the key item from the survey is the extent to which women drive TV purchase decisions, as Hitachi is devoting more marketing to women. "We wanted to ensure that's the right direction," he says.
"Few really understand the level of what's going on in the household ... overall we understand that women play a huge role."
Hitachi will focus its message on three to five points of differentiation around things like design and accessorization.
About three quarters of survey respondents said they would opt for less obtrusive flat panel devices, which the company says underscores the importance of design and style.
Lee says, for instance, that for female-targeted messages, Hitachi will talk about its flat-screen TVs as product one would be proud to have in one's living room, because of its aesthetic appeal. He said performance, product superiority, and service and durability will also be talking points.
One-third of consumers said they would prefer a screen that is 50 inches or larger. For households with children, that number jumps to nearly half. And most respondents said brand is secondary to performance, and specifically picture quality.