Recent growth in the PC market has triggered an increase in external hard disk drive (HDD) sales in both the total market and within the system house business to business (B2B) channel.
However, while the total external HDD market in terms of volume grew by seven per cent year on year, sales in the system house channel exhibited a decline of 14 per cent. The downward trend has been mainly driven by a 36 per cent decline in the 3.5 inch external HDD segment.
Nevertheless, we saw an 11 per cent growth of the B2B channel within the 2.5 inch category. Thus, we witnessed a shift towards the 2.5 category from the 3.5 segment within the system house portfolio.
Smaller HDDs doing well
By September 2010, sales in the 2.5 inch category of HDD have reached 66 per cent in volume terms – over-indexing the total market’s 54 per cent.
When looking at the patterns around renewal of different model lines, the B2B channel appeared slightly under-indexed against the overall market in the 2.5 category. By Q3 2010, the model portfolios launched in 2010 made up 32.2 per cent of the market in terms of units. However, in the system houses sales of such new model lines only comprised 28.7 per cent.
The number of models launched in 2010 within the system houses channel was -- thus far -- almost half of the total SKUs in the market. Notably, within the declining 3.5 segment, the B2B channel is ahead of the market with 26.8 per cent of the 2010 models released -- against 22.7 per cent of the total market.
In terms of the number of new models, the B2B channel is only slightly below the average amount for the entire market.
A decline in the market share of the system houses channel might be also associated with the high average price index experienced in that channel. In September 2010, the price tag in the B2B channel was approximately 22 per cent and six per cent more expensive in the 3.5 and 2.5 inch categories respectively. To a certain extent, this is caused by focusing on the higher gigabyte capacities. However, the average price was higher in all key capacity segments.
B2B product positioning inconsistent
In terms of the price tag for the top-rated models, the B2B channel positioning of these products does not seem consistent. The channel players appeared to be heavily discounting some of the leading models and significantly over-pricing the rest of the models in the market.
We do think that the overall performance of the B2B channel could be improved in the future --- provided the channel players change their model line-up and, as well, the price mix for the top-selling items. We still see potential for growth where the players are switching towards a more advanced product mix, even at times offering their customers a brand mix that is different from those being offered by the total market.
We now come to talk about the network attached storage (NAS) part of the market. With NAS, the B2B channel has been adhering to the main market trend, which means they are shifting towards the business NAS segment and at the same time, exiting the consumer NAS – without media -- category.
The business NAS segment in September 2010 comprised 91.7 per cent of the UK storage channel’s overall sales volume. When marketing this segment, B2B players should not overlook the consumer NAS with media, however. This segment made up 10.6% (in terms of units) of the total market in September 2010, and only 1.4 per cent of the B2B channel portfolio. As with external HDD, the model line renewal and price mix could definitely be potentially improved, resulting in more fruitful sales.
Liudmila Marchenko is an account executive at GfK
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