Top Trends: Mobile Power

Welcome to Top Trends – an offering from the Curve Intelligence Portfolio dedicated to bringing you insights from the frontline of retail trends. This month, we’re taking a look at Mobile Power.

Chances are you’re reading this on your phone. Or if somehow you’re not, you’ve probably got it sitting within arm’s reach, ready grab at even the hint of a vibration. Let’s be honest: we’re all more than a little addicted to these little pocket computers. No judgement here. You’ll find us scrolling Instagram or literally laughing out loud at memes all day (and sometimes all night too!).

Sure, we’re all fueled by FOMO, the hunt for the next great cat video or the desire to share a shot of what we’ve eaten for lunch with the whole world – but what about what fuels our phones to make that possible? All of this time spent on our phones means we all need to charge them up as fast and conveniently as possible. This isn’t just a truth for you and me – it’s a universal truth for just about everyone in this country. And even more importantly, it’s an opportunity for all of us in the retail industry because mobile power is pretty much a universally appealing product with virtually no seasonality. So, let’s take a look at what’s going down with all the products that keep us charged up.

First, let’s talk about charging cables – perhaps the most valuable thing to a person who has just got that low battery warning. Our ever-growing love for, and general reliance on, our phones has resulted in some interesting trends in retail.

While wireless charging has arrived – and trust us, we’ll get to that in a minute – charging cables are still driving growth in the mobile power category, accounting for 55% of the dollar share in Q2 of 2019*. That being said, the average price has dropped so much that actual sales are down 6% in Q2 of 2019*, but with it still representing the largest share of the category it’s safe to say people are definitely still plugging in and bulk buying options just may be your best bet.

Another trend we’ve noticed, and we’ll get all Sherlock Holmes on it, is that while 2-4 ft cables have continued to grow, it’s really the cables over 10 ft that are exploding in retail growth*. So what does that mean? It’s isn’t elementary, Watson – it’s smartphone addiction. People are so reticent to put their phones down that they want to be able to plug them in and use them 10 ft away while they charge up.

One thing that can be difficult to stay on trend with is the different connector types – specifically USB-C and Lightning. Lightning is still a top seller with 60% of the dollar share in Q2’19 but Type C has grown by 36%. But ultimately, consumers don’t care – they just want power and to post their 4th TikTok of the day. Who are we to stop them?

So, what does this mean for retail? Well, you’re going to want to have what your consumers want. That means cables of all sizes – and with the lower priced cables trending upwards, that’s probably a good place to start. But be careful: lots of bulk-buy mobile power products you see in stores aren’t properly certified. Skip the risk, and make sure that the ones you’re selling in your store are – or just ask us for more info. We’ve got the facts, and, of course, properly certified mobile power solutions ready to ship out.

If there’s one truth in this world, it’s that where there’s passion and appetite, there’s innovation. Our world’s insatiable desire for power has driven the development of wireless chargers which are now growing in popularity – to the tune of a 13% increase in dollar sales in Q2*over last year.

So, what’s the deal with wireless charging? Is it going to take over? We’re going to say no – but it’s going to be part of a whole charging ecosystem in our homes. As we’ve surely seen by now, people aren’t going to be content to put their phones down and forget them while they charge on the wireless pad, so cables will probably stick around. But when they go to bed and dream about Instagram, the wireless charging station may be a good bet.

It should go without saying that when it comes to wireless charging, speed is paramount. Wireless chargers always take longer to charge than cables – 190 minutes compared to 135 minutes for an iPhone X and 120 minutes compared to 90 minutes for a Samsung S6 Edge+**. The speed of a charger is totally dependent on the power the device can accept. 5W is standard, but 7.5W provides a wireless fast charge for an Apple device and 10W for a Samsung device. This is definitely a category to stay plugged in to and keep an eye on.

Finally, let’s talk Portable Power. Remember a couple years ago when everyone was absolutely obsessed with that Pokemon game? Come on, admit it – we were too. Well, portable power absolutely blew up because people were walking around and their batteries were dying – and they weren’t ready to slow down and plug in. So they simply brought power packs with them to provide a little bit of extra charge so they could finally snag a Pikachu (while we don’t wanna brag, we did get more than one).

After the Pokemon thing died down and phone manufacturers fixed a lot of the problems with their battery life, portable power started to decline. It seemed like that was it for the products, but believe it or not, they’re having a bit of a resurgence right now. The power packs with tons of features like wireless charging, solar panels and higher capacities (forget the 2000mAh chargers that were all the rage – these days it’s all about 10,000mAh+!) are growing by the day. It’s just further proof that consumers aren’t willing to let go of their phones and demand constant access to power.

Let’s be honest: we get it. We swipe, scroll, post and like just as much as everyone else. We’d be lying if we said that we haven’t had a nightmare or two about running out of batteries on our phones – not that we really want to analyze that one too deeply. Either way, it’s important to see how consumer behaviours are driving the changing trends in this segment at retail. Whether it’s longer cables, the potential resurgence of feature-rich power packs or even just driving the innovation in wireless charging, our collective relationship with our phones is something worth paying attention to next time you’re looking at what to bring into your store.

If you want to chat about the trends, the data, our products (or even just our favourite memes), don’t hesitate to get in touch. We promise we won’t even think about what’s happening on Instagram the entire time.

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*Source: NPD Group Retail Tracking Service
** The charging times listed are approximate and based on an individual test. Charging times may vary by device and charging method.