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In spite of the recession as well as the pressure from high-definition Internet downloads, Blu-ray disc (BD) is about to become a mainstream standard. According to the latest report from NPD Group, a leading retail market tracker in the U.S., in the Q1 2009 both sales and consumer awareness of Blu-ray increased rather substantially. The reason for the success is simple: lowering prices.

“The rising penetration of high-definition televisions and lower Blu-ray player prices are broadening the format’s market opportunity. Even as options expand for accessing movies digitally, Blu-ray is carrying forward the widespread appeal of DVD into the high-definition marketplace,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD.

First quarter sales of stand-alone Blu-ray players in the U.S. grew to more than 400 thousand units, an increase of 72% over Q1 2008. Dollar sales increased 14%, to reach $107.2 million, according to NPD’s retail tracking service. NPD’s “Blu-ray Report” March 2009 update revealed that overall consumer awareness of the BD format in the United States has reached 90% awareness in the past six months.  

Purchase intent for Blu-ray set-top boxes also rose slightly in NPD’s most recent tracking surveys, with 6% of respondents saying they would be “extremely or very likely” to buy in the next six months, compared with 5% who responded similarly in the August report.  Despite these high awareness levels, more than half of adults (58%) continue to report that they were still “not very familiar” with BD. 

According to NPD’s retail tracking service, the average selling price (ASP) for a stand-alone BD player fell nearly 34% – from $393 dollars in Q1 2008 to $261 in Q1 2009. NPD’s “Blu-ray Report” update indicates that consumers who claim that they are likely to buy in the next six months expect to pay $214 on average.

While consumers who purchased BD players when they first came to market were primarily concerned with having the latest technology, and not much concerned about the higher price tag, recent BD player buyers report being influenced most often by pricing, promotions, and sales. As a result, actual prices and consumer expectations are increasingly in alignment. When queried about the reasons for not purchasing BD, respondents reported that their current DVD player is “good enough”, they feel the cost of hardware or software is an issue, or they simply are not interested in the product, NPD research reveals.

“The leading driver of Blu-ray purchase intent is recommendations from friends, family or co-workers. Blu-ray’s superiority used to be difficult for many consumers to grasp, but when friends rave about it, or demonstrate Blu-ray in their homes, they are selling the benefits in a way that is far more effective than simply viewing an advertisement or seeing it demonstrated at a retail store,” said NPD’s entertainment industry analyst, Russ Crupnick.

Data for NPD’s “Blu-ray Report” was collected via an online survey of 6994 consumers, which was fielded from February 25 through March 6, 2009. Final data for the nationally representative sample was weighted to represent the U.S. population of individuals age 18+.  All findings are statistically tested at the 95%confidence level.

Tags: Blu-ray

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