Survey shows retail electronics salespersons are recommending LCD HDTVs over plasma TVs at a rate of more than three to one

A lack of knowledge among US retail salespersons regarding recent improvements in plasma technology is blamed for the high proportion of recommendations given for LCD sets.

More than three times out of four, sales staff steer customers to a liquid-crystal display set rather than a plasma screen, according to a study by JD Power and Associates.

Based on the results of a mystery-shopper survey it carried out, analysts suggest that shop assistants don’t really know much about the differences between LCD and plasma.

Yet the report says that doesn’t stop them exhibiting a strong preference for LCD – a bias it suggests due to a lack of knowledge regarding recent improvements in plasma technology.

It cites examples such as more than one-third (38%) of salespersons telling their customers that LCD sets last longer.
Or the 37 per cent of salespersons who warned their customers that images may be permanently burned onto the screens of plasma TVs.

Larry Wu, senior director of the technology practice at JD Power, said the longevity of plasma displays was now on par with LCDs.
He added: “Although burn-in was once a problem with the first plasmas to hit the market, this has not been a serious issue for several years.”

Salespeople often mentioned a plasma drawback that’s still relevant: their glossy front surface can create distracting reflections of lights and windows in the room.

However, even with their preference for LCDs, the salespeople rarely mentioned those TVs’ advantages.
Fewer than a quarter told customers that LCD sets are lighter and consume less power than plasma.

The report was based on the experiences of more than 2,000 mystery shoppers during the last six months. It focused on sets 40 inches or larger, where plasmas are contenders.

The recommendation rate for plasmas increased over the period, from 17 per cent in the first quarter to 23 per cent in the second quarter.

“At most retail stores, large-screen television shoppers face an array of flat panel sets that all look essentially the same to the untrained eye, which is why recommendations from salespersons carry so much importance,” said Wu.

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