The consumer electronics industry is constantly evolving, shaped by technological advancements and shifting consumer preferences. To gain insights into current trends and prospects of this dynamic industry, we had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Sara Warneke, Ph.D., Managing Director of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH. With her extensive experience and expertise in the field, as well as her academic background in economics, Dr. Warneke brings a unique perspective to the discussion.
gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH owns the trademark rights to IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) – one of the world’s leading trade shows for consumer electronics and home appliances. As Managing Director, Dr. Warneke plays a pivotal role in shaping the organization’s strategic direction and representing the interests of its members. Additionally, she has been invited as a speaker at IFA Berlin, which is set to take place in September 2023. Her participation as a speaker underscores her expertise and the valuable insight she offers on industry trends.
Read the full conversation below.
DS: What trends have you noticed in the Consumer Electronics industry and how do you think it will impact the future of the market?
Dr. Warneke: Some of the biggest trends at present are sustainability – for example, by making products easily repairable – and energy efficient. The requirements in these fields will continue to rise and challenge the industry. Customers will base their purchasing decisions accordingly and buy products that fulfill these requirements. If this is not the case, they will not buy the product.
DS: How important is sustainability in the consumer electronics industry, and what steps can be taken to promote eco-friendly practices?
Dr. Warneke: For many buyers, the best possible classification – in terms of energy efficiency – is an important aspect of their buying decision. This is currently even more the case for household appliances than for consumer electronics. The significant rise in energy prices is driving this purchasing behavior. At the same time, more customers want to know what is “inside” their appliances, in other words, whether the raw materials used are “politically correct”. The industry is aware of these demands and develops its products accordingly, so that with each new generation of appliances the values for the lowest possible consumption of electrical energy, water and detergents are further optimized. At the same time, supply chains are becoming more transparent.
DS: What strategies can companies employ to differentiate themselves and their products from their competitors, especially in this increasingly competitive marketplace?
Dr. Warneke: Customers want clearly recognizable added value. Be it through special functionality, sustainability, energy efficiency or even design. At the same time, more and more, customers expect brands to be aware of their responsibility for our living environment and the planet and to act accordingly. Companies that meet these customer expectations will be successful in the market. In this context, price does not always play the most significant role.
DS: How do you assess the impact of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and augmented reality on the future of consumer electronics?
Dr. Warneke: AI is already present in many consumer electronics products, for example, image processing in TV sets or the optimization of camera functions. This evolution will continue at an accelerated pace and further improve the functionality, quality, and convenience of products. Networking via the IoT will also be further expanded in the future. This will lead to new functions that increase performance and convenience even more. What is always interesting here is the contradiction between attitudes towards technologies and their use. Many people are afraid of AI, but are excited when they look at the photos their smartphone has taken. Yet the reason for the superb pictures is often the AI in the background. We will have to live with such contradictions more frequently in the future.
DS: What are the key factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions in the consumer electronics industry, and how can companies effectively target and engage their target audience?
Dr. Warneke: This differs in the product categories. In the case of TV sets, for example, the focus is on screen size, display quality, smart functionality, and – to a limited extent – energy efficiency; in the case of smartphones, the focus is on fast data transfer. Target groups must be addressed with the right content on the right channels, just as competent service in retail is needed. Customers could be involved in various ways, from direct surveys to the evaluation of service data and special bonus programs.
DS: What ethical considerations should companies keep in mind when developing and marketing consumer electronics, particularly in areas such as privacy, accessibility, and social responsibility?
Dr. Warneke: All these points (above) will become more important in the future, and the industry would do well to act responsibly in all areas and, of course, to comply with the law. In doing so, it must also deal with specific challenges and strike a balance. Customers, for example, expect companies to handle their data sensitively and sparingly. At the same time, good data is important for optimizing products and adapting them to consumer requirements.
We eagerly anticipate Dr. Warneke’s upcoming speaking engagement at IFA Berlin in September 2023. As a renowned industry expert and the Managing Director of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH, her insights and perspectives will undoubtedly contribute to the vibrant discussions and thought-provoking sessions at this prestigious event. Dr. Warneke’s presence at IFA Berlin further solidifies her status as a key figure in the consumer electronics industry, and we eagerly await the valuable contributions she will make to the conference.