Phones and TVs Top Holiday 2023 Electronics Shopping Lists

A majority of Gen Zers and millennials say they plan on shopping this year’s Black Friday sales, and many are looking for premium features like OLED screens in their electronics purchases, writes tech analyst Jordan Marlatt
Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Kelly Rice & Natalie White
September 20, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • Nearly half of U.S. adults (46%) and a majority of Gen Zers and millennials (58% and 54%, respectively) say they intend to make purchases this Black Friday, and many plan to buy during Cyber Monday as well.

  • Price is naturally the most important consideration for consumers when evaluating the purchase of new electronics, and half of U.S. adults say they intend to buy items on sale this holiday season.

  • Phones and TVs top electronics shoppers’ lists, and many are looking for premium aspects in their devices such as smart-home integrations, OLED screens and gaming-specific features.

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With the year’s biggest shopping holidays just around the corner, nearly half of Americans (46%) said they intend to shop Black Friday sales, and 35% plan to participate in Cyber Monday, according to a recent Morning Consult survey. Following a year of high inflation and economic uncertainty, there are signs that consumer confidence is waning going into the fall, and younger Americans’ discretionary spending may soon come under pressure due to mounting debts, making competition for people’s dollars all the more intense. 

Despite this, consumers — especially younger ones — are showing considerable interest in shopping sales in the coming months: 58% of Gen Z adults and 54% of millennials said they intend to buy something during Black Friday. Such events are an important motivator. Half of U.S. adults said they plan to buy items and gifts at a discount this holiday season. Not too surprisingly, price is consistently cited as the most important factor by consumers when deciding which TV (89%), cellphone (88%) or laptop (85%) to purchase. 

New phones top holiday electronics shopping lists

Nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. adults said they plan to purchase a new cellphone this holiday season, and of those, about 1 in 5 (18%) said they intend to spend upwards of $1,000. Apple recently announced a slew of new iPhone 15 models starting at $799, designed to appeal to different consumer segments. At the top of the category is Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro, with premium features — such as an all-titanium enclosure — that match its premium price tag of at least $999. Spurred by recent E.U. regulations, the new models will also feature USB-C charging, a first for iPhone — and an attribute that 70% of consumers said is important to them when considering which phone to buy. 

Specific demographics at scale: Surveying thousands of consumers around the world every day powers our ability to examine and analyze perceptions and habits of more specific demographics at scale, like those featured here.

Why it matters: Leaders need a better understanding of their audiences when making key decisions. Our comprehensive approach to understanding audience profiles complements the “who” of demographics and the “what” of behavioral data with critical insights and analysis on the “why.”

Consumers Are Most Likely to Plan to Buy Phones and TVs This Fall

Share of consumers who said they plan to buy the following this holiday season:
Morning Consult Logo
Survey conducted Sept. 12-14, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,203 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Over the past several years, advancements in phone technology have been largely iterative — better cameras, faster processors, brighter screens — as opposed to entirely new features or formats. But these incremental improvements still line up with what consumers find important when shopping for a phone. The vast majority (88%) said durability and battery life are important to them when considering a new phone, and 83% said the same about storage and screen resolution. 

Early tech adopters are interested in more novel features in their devices, such as gaming-specific functions (64% said these are important when considering a laptop and 63% when considering a TV) and OLED screens (68% for TVs and 67% for cellphones). Consumers who describe themselves as among the first to try new tech account for roughly 18% of the U.S. adult population, and more than half (56%) of this group said they intend to purchase an item during Black Friday sales, making them an important segment for retailers and consumer electronics companies to consider this fall.

Consumers Rate Price, Durability and Battery Life as Most Important When Shopping for a New Phone

Shares who said the following are “very” or “somewhat” important to them when considering which cellphone to purchase:
Morning Consult Logo
Survey conducted Sept. 12-14, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,203 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Recently, new phones featuring folding screens, such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola Razr+, have come onto the market in an effort by manufacturers to switch up the more “traditional” smartphone format. Samsung’s flip phone has done well in sales, particularly in Europe and Asia, a good indicator that this format is more than a gimmick for consumers. However, for now, only 27% of consumers said a folding screen is an important consideration for them when buying a new phone, well behind core features such as durability and battery life. 

OLED is an important consideration in TVs and phones

Just behind phones, TVs are the second most anticipated electronics purchase this holiday season, with 1 in 5 consumers saying they intend to buy a new TV. New visual and audio technologies and smart-home integrations have transformed TVs from just a screen in a room to a hub for entertainment and home automation. In fact, 71% of consumers said smart device integration and capabilities are important to them when considering buying a new TV. 

Early Tech Adopters More Likely to Value OLED Screens and Gaming Features in TVs

Shares who said the following are “very” or “somewhat” important to them when considering which TV to purchase:
Morning Consult Logo
Survey conducted Sept. 12-14, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,203 U.S. adults, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

One of the most significant developments in screen technology over the past few years has been OLED, or organic LED. Unlike in traditional LED screens, pixels in OLED screens can individually turn on and off, allowing for much richer visuals with technically infinite contrast. OLED, as well as variations of it such as QD-OLED and WOLED, is becoming increasingly prevalent in TVs and other devices like phones. (Newer iPhones use OLED screens.) Just over half of U.S. adults (52%) said an OLED screen is important when considering which TV to buy, and a similar share (50%) said the same about phones. OLED is an even more important feature among people who consider themselves early tech adopters, with 68% saying this is an important feature in TVs and 67% saying the same about phones. 

But like many technologies in relatively early stages of development, it isn’t without its trade-offs. OLED screens are prone to image retention, or “burn in,” if an image such as a logo or chyron remains on the screen for too long. Manufacturers such as LG and Samsung provide limited warranties to help abate some of these concerns, and 68% of consumers said such warranties are important to them when considering buying a new TV. In the near future, this may be less of an issue, as some of the world’s largest OLED panel manufacturers are adopting new manufacturing processes that reduce image retention risk. 

This holiday season, retailers will likely be paying attention to whether consumer spending can maintain the pace set during the summer, when Amazon reported blowout numbers for its Prime Day sale. There are indications that consumers, particularly Gen Zers and millennials, may be more budget-conscious going into the fall, providing an opportunity for retailers to appeal to more value-driven consumers, as well as early tech adopters who are seeking premium features in their purchases.

A headshot photograph of Jordan Marlatt
Jordan Marlatt
Lead Tech Analyst

Jordan Marlatt previously worked at Morning Consult as a lead tech analyst.

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