What you need to know

This report trends consumer electronics (CE) ownership and online activities, providing a broad overview of the changing use of digital products and services. Hardware coverage analyzes household and personal ownership, as well as purchase intent. Trended online behavior covers methods of accessing the internet and activities conducted online via computer, tablet, or smartphone, with an emphasis on online activities related to media usage and online activities that may be related to online shopping or research.


The report trends ownership of CE products and online behavior among the US adult population. The report builds on Mintel’s Digital Trends Spring – US, March 2014 and Digital Trends Fall – US, September 2013. For the purposes of this report, consumer electronics consist of physical products that do not require professional installation. This definition excludes automotive electronics and home security systems and includes tablets, computers, cell phones, televisions, cameras, portable and digital media players, surround sound systems, Blu-ray/DVD players, and gaming consoles. In-car electronics are covered in Mintel’s In-Car Electronics – US, August 2013.

Data sources

Consumer survey data

For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive consumer research through GMI to explore ownership of and intent to purchase household and personal electronics, internet access, and online activities. Mintel was responsible for the survey design, data analysis, and reporting. Fieldwork was conducted in June 2014 among a sample of 2,000 adults aged 18+ with access to the internet. To trend results, this study is compared to Mintel’s previous survey for this series, conducted in January 2014 and July 2013, among samples of 2,000 adults aged 18+ with access to the internet.

Mintel selects survey respondents by gender, age, household income, and region so that they are proportionally representative of the US adult population using the internet. Mintel also slightly oversamples, relative to the population, respondents that are Hispanic or Black to ensure an adequate representation of these groups in our survey results and to allow for more precise parameter estimates from our reported findings. Please note that Mintel surveys are conducted online and in English only. Hispanics who are not online and/or do not speak English are not included in the survey results.

Mintel has also analyzed data from Experian Marketing Services, using the Experian Marketing Services NCS (National Consumer Study) and the Experian Marketing Services NHCS (National Hispanic Consumer Study). Data for this report include the NCS/NHCS Winter 2014 six-month study, carried out during August 2013-March 2014 with a sample of 12,115 adults aged 18+, with results weighted to represent the US adult population. Mintel trends data from the NCS/NHCS data, including the following surveys:

  • Experian Marketing Services Winter 2013, July 2012-March 2013: results based on 11,702 adults aged 18+

  • Experian Marketing Services Fall 2012, August 2011-March 2012: results based on 11,986 adults aged 18+

While race and Hispanic origin are separate demographic characteristics, Mintel often compares them to each other. Please note that the responses for race (White, Black, Asian, Native American, or other race) will overlap those that also are Hispanic, because Hispanics can be of any race.

Abbreviations and terms


The following abbreviations are used in this report:

3-D Three-dimensional
3DTV Three-dimensional television (set)
4K Video image with 2,160 horizontal lines
8K Video image with 4,320s horizontal lines
ARPU Average revenue per user
CE Consumer electronics
CEA Consumer Electronics Association
CES Consumer Electronics Show
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Basic mobile phone For the purposes of this report, any phone that does not run Android, iOS, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone operating system.
Digital media players Set-top boxes (STBs) or sticks that enable internet-based audio and video to be streamed to a television set (eg Apple TV, Roku players, Chromecast sticks). The term is used synonymously in this report with streaming media players.
Lines of resolution The number of vertical lines in a display.
Living room hardware For the purpose of this report, this term refers to consumer electronics products (CE) likely to be found in the living room of a household, including televisions, Blu-ray and DVD players, surround sound home theater systems, and digital media players.
Mobile devices Handheld consumer electronics, consisting of cell phones and tablets.
Pixel The smallest addressable picture element in a digital display.
Portable electronics A category including all handheld devices but that also includes laptops
Smartphone A phone capable of adding functionality by downloading additional pieces of software. For the purposes of this report, a smartphone is considered to be any phone with an Android, iOS, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone operating system (OS). Note that the ability to use the internet is not a defining feature of the term smartphone—many feature phones are capable of surfing the internet, even if they are not used to do so.
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Smart TV A television capable of adding functionality by downloading additional pieces of software, or which has built-in bi-directional web-based functions such as social networking or video conferencing. Note that the ability to use the internet is not the defining feature of the term—many televisions offer direct ports for connecting to the internet without the ability to add or change functions on the television, or to use the television for activities other than accessing web content, such as movies and television shows delivered by Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.
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