Chinese brands have had a significant impact on the global TV market recently, due to their aggressive pursuit of export growth. In large part because of these efforts, monthly liquid crystal display (LCD) TV unit shipments returned to positive year-over-year growth in March 2016 after three months of declines, increasing by 4.8 percent to 16.2 million units, according to IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight. Every Chinese brand experienced positive growth in March, offsetting the drop in shipments in February.
"Major global TV brands have adjusted their strategy this year to focus on profitability, avoiding severe competition in pursuit of market share," said Ken Park, principal analyst of TV sets research for IHS Technology. "Chinese brands, in particular, have started to play a more critical role in the global TV market over the last year."
Chinese TV brand shipments, which fell 63.5 percent month over month in February, rebounded 88.9 percent in March, from 2.4 million to 4.5 million units. In fact, Chinese brands accounted for 28 percent of all LCD TV shipments in March, an increase of 11 percentage points from the previous month.
"After cleaning up carried-over stock from the Chinese New Year holiday in February, Chinese TV brands began to restock retail inventory in March for upcoming promotional events on the Web and May Labor Day holiday sales," Park said. "E-commerce-focused brands like LeEco, Xiaomi and newcomer FunTV have also been aggressive in increasing production and shipments in the TV market this year, leveraging their online content portals to attract new customers."
In contrast, year-over-year South Korean TV brands' shipments dropped 7.8 percent in March, according to the IHS TV Sets Intelligence Service. Both Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics recorded contraction in March, but their reported operating margins in the first quarter of 2016 increased relative to a year ago. "These two companies were able to benefit from the drop in panel prices and relatively conservative sales targets, targeting profits over absolute market share growth," Park said.
The 50-inch and larger share of monthly LCD TV shipments increased by more than 6 percentage points in March to 22.4 percent, compared to a year earlier. During the same period, the 4K TV share grew to a record 20.9 percent of unit shipments. "Both of these factors are driving worldwide growth as consumers upgrade from older TVs," Park said.