Shipments of e-sports LCD monitors is expected to come in at 23.2 million units in 2022, with an annual growth rate of only 2%. Although branded and panel manufacturers are still actively promoting e-sports monitors, the Russian-Ukrainian war began to affect overall European consumer market demand starting in February 2022. After 2Q22, Europe was clearly hit hard by inflation and demand for consumer electronics products shrank sharply, steadily eroding e-sports LCD monitors sales. If sales in peak season 4Q22 are disappointing, gaming LCDs may not be able to maintain their growth momentum and will face the first year in which shipments declined.
Strictly control costs and inventory to maintain profitability and competitiveness
At present, there is no shortage of materials for e-sports LCD monitors and panel prices are falling month by month. Transit time was shortened by 2 to 3 weeks in 2Q22. In addition to sluggish consumer demand in Europe, product sales have slowed. Demand in 2H22 will also feel the heat of interest rate hikes in the United States. Therefore, branded manufacturers must clear their high-priced inventories in the shortest possible time and reduce the inventory levels of panels and whole devices as soon as possible to curb ballooning losses precipitated by cratering prices.
M-type development of e-sports products to increase product penetration
Looking forward to shipments of e-sports LCD monitors in 2023, e-sports merchandise is expected to remain a key product in continuous development at major branded manufacturers. However, overall market size will stagnate in 2023. Considering the limited market, manufacturers must raise the value of their products. E-sports products need M-type development if they wish to grow despite trends.
Firstly, is parity of low-end gaming products, such as narrowing the price gap between gaming products and standard products or reducing specifications and cost to replace prior 60Hz products with 100Hz products. Development of high-end e-sports products with higher resolution and higher refresh rates or new technologies such as QD-OLED, OLED, and Mini-LED should continue in order to improve and optimize said products and enhance the consumer experience. Hopefully, consumers will prioritize e-sports products when purchasing LCD monitors and its market share will continue to expand.
Given the expected price hike of LCD display panels in 2021 and the high demand for electronic products that has persisted since last year due to the stay-at-home economy, various IT product suppliers are under tremendous stress from not only the enormous number of client orders, but also surging quotes from panel manufacturers. And LCD monitor manufacturers are no exception.
According to TrendForce’s investigations into monitor pricing, the cost of the LCD panel typically accounts for about 40-50% of a monitor’s retail prices. Conversely, in the high-end segment, panel costs account for about 30-40% of monitor retail prices due to other factors, such as the inclusion of industrial design and premium components.
Regarding the sales of mainstream products, monitor brands face three different sources of pricing pressure. Put in layman’s terms, these sources are equivalent to taking an SAT, hunting for jobs post-college, and (for middle-aged people) transitioning one’s career after being fired.
Despite ample room for panel prices to change, raising retail prices of monitors remains difficult, and such prices hikes lag far behind the increase of panel costs
More specifically, 27-inch IPS FHD products can be analogized to the SAT, as monitor brands are relatively well-equipped to deal with increases in panel costs for this product category. For the most part, panel costs account for less than 50% of these products’ retail prices in 2021. In other words, since 27-inch IPS FHD monitors are still relatively profitable for monitor brands, brands will attempt to increase the share of these products in their shipment of all product categories.
With regards to 23.8-inch IPS products, monitor brands face pressure that is about equivalent to the job search process that takes place after graduating from college. Panel costs have been accounting for more than 40% of monitor retail prices since February. In view of rising panel costs, this percentage is expected to reach 50-55% in 3Q21, which is approximately the breakeven point for monitor brands.
However, because brands will attempt to maintain a certain level of shipment, 23.8-inch IPS monitors will continue to remain the market mainstream.
On the other hand, brands do not prioritize the sales of 21.5-inch TN products as much as they do the other products. Panel prices for this product category have been rising since 2Q20, and this price hike has been intensifying since 2H20.
Entering October 2020, panel costs began accounting for a considerable part of retail prices, in turn surpassing 50% in January 2021 and 60% in June 2021. Since panel manufacturers are disinclined to continue supplying 21.5-inch TN panels, the gap between supply and demand will persist, resulting in either an upward trajectory or bullish outlook for panel prices. In other words, the relative high costs of these panels will not only remain unresolved, but also likely worsen going forward.
TrendForce therefore believes that monitor brands may need to package their 21.5-inch TN monitors within bundle sales in order to offset the rising costs of panels. Alternatively, brands may also raise the retail prices of these products by about US$20-30 in order ensure that panel costs account for only about 50% of the monitors’ retail prices.
On the whole, the magnitude of financial losses incurred by monitor brands through price hikes, panel shortages, or the continued sale of 21.5-inch TN monitors will become the key determinant to how monitor brands adjust the volume of other mid-sized and large-sized products within their total monitor shipments.