The US microwave market experienced fairly static volume sales in 2012, maintaining a value of 9.5 million units, while current value growth remained on a similar growth level, hitting a market value of US$2.5 billion.
The consumers' desire for food solutions, which are quick, efficient, time saving, and designed to simplify an elaborate food preparation, has been long driving technology developments in consumer electronics geared towards delivering the utmost level of convenience.
Microwave ovens, which during 1970s, invited lot of scepticism from wary scepticism by wary consumers unwilling to sacrifice quality, flavour or taste of foods, is today an indispensable part of every American household.
Americans used their microwave ovens more last year and their stove tops less. Approximately 23.5% of all meals prepared in US homes from 1990 to 2010 involved the use of a microwave, until last year when usage rose 10%.
Freestanding microwaves fared slightly better than built-in microwaves, maintaining flat volume growth in 2012 to reach 6.9 million units. Value sales of freestanding microwaves grew by 2% in current terms to reach US$807 million.
Replacement cycles are the biggest driver for freestanding microwaves, which occur approximately every nine years. In looking at the pattern of declining volume growth for freestanding microwaves, the decline has been steady over the course of seven to eight years, signalling a replacement period on the horizon.
Whilst General Electric (GE) maintained its position as the leader in the United States microwaves market in volume terms in 2012, its share dropped to 22%, which was a slight decrease compared with the previous year. Sharp Electronics was slightly behind GE with an 18% share of volume sales.
Many small foreign brands, positioned as "others" within company share data, are taking share from some of the large corporate giants such as GE and Sharp.
The relatively low manufacturing costs, and the lack of need for highly innovative microwaves, helped position these unknown international companies in the low-end, budget-friendly microwaves segment.
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