Magazine article Marketing

WPs Bring It on Home

Magazine article Marketing

WPs Bring It on Home

Article excerpt

The shape of UK personal computing is undergoing a fundamental shift. Current research reports on future retail sales are serious underestimates, according to Olivetti UK consumer division marketing manager, Mike Chandler. He believes 1993 will herald a revolution in the PC marketplace as domestic sales boom

For the last year, the debate over how to market entry-level personal computers has filled the PC press. The computing world has traditionally hidden behind a hi-tech cloak, with mass-marketing methods, at best, dismissed as irrelevant, at worst, rejected out of hand.

But the market is changing and, like it or not depending on your perspective, PCs have at last become a commodity item. The general public is embracing the concept of the PC at home on their own terms and making it work to suit them.

The massive price reductions, moves towards smaller machines, developments in software and the integration of voice and data for the desktop -- or kitchen table -- of recent years, have been well documented. But the corresponding change in purchasing patterns is more difficult to measure.

Recent market research by a number of industry specialists points to sales increases of approximately 15% through the retail channel in the next three years. However, in reality this figure may turn out to be as high as 30%.

The announcement last week that Dixons will open an additional 30 PC World superstores by the end of the year, not to mention plans for many Currys outlets to stock PCs, is only part of the rush to retail. US giant Staples has also said it will open 60 new UK stores by the end of 1994. At the other end of the market, distributors, traditionally servicing the dealer channel, are reportedly making plans to open their own retail PC centres.

Despite recent press reports of computer games stores like MicroByte folding, the high street will almost certainly host a number of new players -- such as The Game Store. Furthermore, such software-orientated outlets may eventually enter the hardware fray.

Not only are users buying more PCs for the home, they are also spending more time using them -- and, increasingly, the PC is becoming a family, not a home-work, buy.

Domestically, most screen time is spent on word-processing, though business applications such as personal finance are used more than entertainment packages. …

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