Thailand's tablet sales jump 75 percent in Q1 post-floods

In first quarter this year, tablet sales grew strongly exceeding US$50 million, bucking trend of decline by most other electronic items in Thailand, research finds.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

The 2011 floods in Thailand which peaked in November slowed growth for most electronic product categories in the country, but tablets had a 75 percent incremental sales volume in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous year, hitting over US$50 million, according to new figures by GfK Thailand.

The sales volume of tablets was "testament that the Thais are truly avid technology enthusiasts", said Wichit Purepong, general manager of GfK Thailand, in a statement Monday.

Besides tablets, TVs also "thrived" in the first three months of the year, registering around US$244 million in sales, the market research firm added.

On the flip side, there was double-digit negative growth for five other electronic product categories in the same period, it said.

Gfk Thailand revealed that washing machines were the worst hit in the first quarter of 2012, underperforming by 20 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011. Sales for DVD players and recorders, and audio home systems also dropped 18 percent each, it added.

The poor performance in the first quarter was seen as the result of the negative effect of the flooding catastrophe last year spilling over, said Purepong.

During the 2011 flooding, where November was described as the peak of the disaster, volume sales of products including audio home systems, TVs, washing machines, air conditioners and laptops nosedived by at least 25 percent as compared to the previous month, the statement said. However, December saw an immediate resumption of market spending, with demand for items such as audio home systems and digital cameras increasing twofold.

Promotions and pent up demand
GfK Thailand explained that the market's improved performance was mainly due to promotional efforts of manufacturers and retailers to drive sales during the festive period as well as pent-up consumer demand as a result of the months of flooding.

Looking forward, Purepong said he expects TVs, tablets and smartphones to be key high growth products that will be at the forefront of a continued strong performance in Thailand's market.

He also noted that Thailand's flooding will have minimal impact on Asia's retail consumption of digital products, with the market forecast to achieve 21 percent overall growth.

GfK Thailand added that although the disruption in production resulting from the shutdown of hundreds of factories including international electronic firms that use Thailand as a regional production hub, the flood is not predicted to have a strong bearing on technology spend on global and regional level.

"Thailand's flooding will have minimal impact on Asia's retail consumption of digital products as the market is forecast to achieve a 21 overall growth, while non-digital products such as home appliances are predicted to expand by 24 percent in 2012," said Purepong. "Within Thailand, we envisage continued strong performance of the market into year-end with key high growth products like tablets, smartphones and TVs will be in the forefront and continue propelling the industry to greater heights."

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