Most communities in the UK have Facebook pages nowadays. Trawl through yours and you can bet there will be people complaining about potholes, roadworks and traffic. Responses to these complaints invariably advise people to ’get a dashcam’ so they can protect themselves (and their insurance premiums).
And police in Wales are encouraging members of the public to submit footage and images showing traffic offences being committed from driving dangerously or carelessly, to contravening solid white lines, using a mobile phone while driving or ignoring traffic lights.
Part of Operation Snap, the initiative was devised and piloted by the GoSafe unit in North Wales Police and the Road Casualty Reduction Partnership, but has now been introduced Wales-wide following further developments by South Wales Police and GoSafe. "It will give members of the public the power to assist forces in taking action against those who put other road users at risk," say the police.
Meanwhile, according to Malcolm Tarling, chief media relations officer at the Association of British Insurers, as a whole, the insurance industry encourages drivers to consider the benefits of fitting a dashcam, as they can provide good evidence of the circumstances of an accident.
As for dashcams lowering insurance premiums though, Tarling says: "A few insurers may offer discounts, but I do not think it is common while dashcams can, of course, provide invaluable footage of any road traffic incident, in themselves they do not actually reduce the chances of you being involved in an accident. Premium discounts are more widely available for telematics-based in-car technology that monitors your driving behaviour and can reward good driving through lower premiums."
In terms of specific dashcam models, Tarling says individual insurers may advise buying specific makes or models but adds: "We would advise people to do their research to ensure that whatever model they buy can be relied upon to provide reliable, good quality footage."
Research firm GfK says there hasn’t been a slowdown yet in sales of dashcams and there are typically strong peaks in November and December when they are often bought as Christmas presents.
Sofia Whitaker, client insights manager at GfK, says: "Latest data shows that for the year-to-date, (Jan-April 18) the volume is up 48% and value up 51% and we don’t see unit sales being driven by just one brand. As the market becomes saturated we will start to see this volume and value level out, but it’s unclear at the moment when this will be."
She adds that the £100-plus price band went from a 28% share in April 2017 to 48% volume share in April 18, indicating the popularity of premium products.
"Dashcams are not only being used for insurance and safety, but also by enthusiasts who want to share their experiences. There’s also innovation in the market which could add value, for example a company called Owl has introduced a dashcam that films both inside and outside of the car and encourages sharing across social networks. At the moment it’s hard to tell how much vol/val this kind of innovation will add but it’s an area we will be monitoring."
Dashcams can be pricey which is why so many people decide to start with the sort they can buy in their local petrol station just to see how they work.
Then, if they wish, they can trade up to better models. That’s the hope of Gary Digva, sales director at In Phase International which owns the popular Road Angel dashcam brand. He says there are so many variables with dashcams (reliability, battery life, quality of SD cards used etc), it’s best for drivers to buy the best they can afford.
The Road Angel brand currently sells in the likes of Halfords, Currys and PC World but Digva is keen to get the products into forecourts and says he’s already had interest from a couple of the groups.
"Our flagship product, the new Road Angel Pure is selling incredibly well. We’ve had fantastic reviews in the motoring press, which have driven a lot of interest but ultimately this is a very high quality product that customers have been waiting for with great anticipation," he says.
Digva adds that Road Angel is a brand that people will actively seek out. He says buying a quality dashcam is not the typical impulse purchase that you’d expect in a forecourt environment but there is a market there for technology. "The challenge is with the margins. There is only so far that brands such as ours would be willing to go to with regards pricing as any deep discounts can negatively affect the image of the product and the brand, so there is an exercise in caution there.
"A quality dashcam is an investment in your peace of mind. You know you have an extra layer of security for your vehicle and in the event of an accident your evidence for insurance claims is invaluable. That’s a big part of the success of our Road Angel Pure too. Sure, some people will see it just as a way to ’avoid’ speeding fines but we are finding there is a huge motivation around understanding speed awareness and driving habits with our customers. Technology is all about making things easier, not just about shiny gadgets that might look flash and that is what will drive our product range and what drivers will be seeking in the market."
At Spot Promotions, which owns the Object brand, joint owner Asiffa Gadatra, is expecting growth in sales of wireless products from earphones and mini speakers through to ear buds. "Due to the popularity of the Apple Wireless AirPods, we knew we had to offer a high-street alternative at a competitive price while still offering good quality. Our Object ear buds are available now and retail at £9.99 with healthy margin for retailers."
She says gadgets and gizmos are key products for retailers, generating significant profit on a daily basis and for her getting it spot-on regarding trends is vital.
"We have to be able to make the right decisions on what is likely to be the latest must-have product alongside the products that generate ongoing sales
"Sometimes it’s hard to make the call on when a product is emerging and how big we think it could be, and also when to stop supply as the trend comes to an end sometimes the decision comes down to plain gut instinct, other times it is more data led but either way there is an element of risk taken from our side. Take the fidget spinner, for example. We took a huge risk by ordering a vast quantity of spinners but caught the trend as it was just emerging, and were one of the only suppliers in the UK with stock for a period of time which meant we could supply one of the must-have products to our customers last summer, who then saw it fly off the shelves."
To help retailers flag up their gadgets range in-store, Spot offers free point of sale with many of its products.
"We offer till countertop units and free-standing floor displays which allow smaller stores to create a great eye-catching display without compromising their existing planogrammed shop layout."
Fraser’s Retail has been trading with Spot Promotions for over 10 years. Chief operating officer Mark Wilson says: "It’s been great working with an innovator such as Asiffa who continues to look for new products to bring to the market ahead of the competition, giving us a window of opportunity to maximise sales and be the first on the street with new lines."
Chargers still charging ahead
One product range in the gadgets and gizmos category that keeps on selling is emergency phone charging products. Spot Promotions’ joint owner, Asiffa Gadatra, says: "Consumers expect to find mobile chargers and key accessories such as power banks in a prominent area in the forecourt alongside the obvious till placement. We are seeing fast growth in the Type C cable as well as regular high sales for all the iPhone chargers and accessories."
Health is still going to be a key priority for consumers this year, and Spot has extended its fitness range to include popular products often found in fitness stores or in large retailers, such as Bluetooth and wireless headphones, sports bracelets, smart watches, water bottles and mobile phone arm bands.
"Latest research from Mintel finds British consumers have helped drive sales of smart watches and fitness bands/bracelets to an estimated 4 million devices in 2017, up 18% on 2016, with fitness bracelets leading the way in that growth," says Gadatra.
"We offer both a smart watch and a sports bracelet, both are great sellers, but like the market trends, we are expecting stronger sales of the fitness bracelet in 2018, with consumers looking for a reasonably priced way to track their fitness or as a gift for their loved ones.
"Our Object sports bracelet retails at a very reasonable £12.99 with an impactful neat counter top unit for till placement this is one product that will do well in 2018 but it does need to be displayed at the till if retailers want to optimise this growing category."