Alison Shepard, a marketing associate for a record label in Manhattan, straps an ultrathin iPod Nano onto her arm before she goes for a run. When she returns to her apartment, she takes off the Nano and turns on the bulkier iPod that has replaced her home music system.
Shepard also owns two cameras—a point-and-shoot model she bought for $100(about Rs4,000) and a bulkier, far more expensive single-lens-reflex version that she says lets her be more creative. She has a laptop computer that can play DVDs, as well as a portable DVD player.
Electronic gadgets come in all shapes, sizes and styles to appeal to a range of tastes and requirements. For a growing number of consumers, that means buying two or more
models to get every feature they want.
Multiplicity: New features induce repeat buying of the same device
With the purchases of first-time gadget buyers levelling off, and even declining in some market segments, consumers such as Shepard feed the industry’s dream. The trend of buying more than one model of the same type of device—whether for personal use or as a gift—means revenue growth for manufacturers.
The average American household has 25 electronic devices, and the average adult spends about $1,200 a year to buy new ones, according to the latest figures from the Consumer Electronics Association, a Washington trade group. More of those purchases come from repeat buyers, who typically are looking for something either more portable or more sophisticated than what they already own.
Repeat buyers bought about half of all digital cameras sold last year, for example, and are expected to overtake first-time digital camera buyers this year.
Ryan Penny, a news cameraman, owns a digital point-and-shoot camera, an analog camcorder and a high-end camcorder he uses to produce professional-level footage for personal projects. But he is eager to buy a digital mini-DVD camcorder that he wouldn’t worry about replacing if he broke it or lost it. “I think the ability to buy a wide variety of products is good because there are so many different uses for different products,” Penny said.
Andrew Welder, a restaurant entrepreneur, owns several cameras, including a pocket-size digital model he bought for $250, which he likes to take when he travels by air and doesn’t want to check his bags. On road trips, he takes his two clunky, more expensive single-lens-reflex cameras, which he says take better photos.
When it comes to music, Welder has only one iPod, which holds all the music he likes. “Really, it comes down to portability and possession,” he said. “Personally, I am willing to sacrifice portability in order to be in possession of my entire collection. But other people might be okay with only part of their music collection.”
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