Despite the short term challenges presented by the weak economic environment we consider the consumer electronics market in Bulgaria to have strong medium-term growth potential. There is relatively low device penetration in most categories meaning vendors can tap the first-time buyer and upgrade/ replacement market as incomes rise. As device prices decline and incomes rise we believe Bulgaria could be a regional outperformer over the medium term. However, in the short term we expect difficult trading conditions to persist in many segments of Bulgaria's consumer electronics market in 2014. The uncertain economic outlook continues to undermine consumer confidence, keeping household spending subdued. Despite the challenges for vendors we expect growth areas in 2014 will include smartphones, flat-panel TV sets and low-cost Android tablets.
Headline Expenditure Projections
Computer Sales: US$555mn in 2013 to US$576mn in 2014, +6.3% in US dollar terms. The decline in sales of desktops and notebooks will continue, but at a slower pace, while booming tablet sales will offset declines.
AV Sales: US$387mn in 2013 to US$427mn in 2014, +10.3% in US dollar terms. Forecast in US dollar terms unchanged, with flat-panel TV sets expected to see the strongest growth.
Handset Sales: US$290mn in 2013 to US$312mn in 2014, +7.5% in US dollar terms. Smartphone sales continue to grow strongly, driven by the popularity of low-to-mid range devices.
Key Trends & Developments
- Smartphone sales are driving the handset market as a whole. Unit sales increased markedly in 2013 as declining device prices in the Android ecosystem made smartphones a mass market product in Bulgaria. The major beneficiary in terms of vendors was global leader, Samsung Electronics, as it made gains at the expense of other Android partner vendors and former market leader Nokia. However another Android vendor, Chinese Huawei Technologies made significant gains in 2013 and BMI expects it to continue to challenge via its low-cost strategy in 2014.
- The PC market is being reshaped by the popularity of tablets. Low incomes and conservative, pricesensitive consumer culture meant sales of Apple's iPad were limited, but with the arrival of a range of affordable high spec Android tablets the market took off in 2012. The Multirama chain of consumer electronics retail stores reported a 50-fold increase in sales of tablets in 2012, and we expect strong unit growth to be maintained over the medium term. The latest data indicate mid-range Android tablets fared best in 2013, with Presitgio just ahead of Samsung in terms of volumes.