Headphones Market Booming

The global headphones market expanded by nearly 10% in volume last year to reach 286 million units shipped, triggering 16% growth in retail value and revenues of $8.4 billion, according to a new market report from Futuresource Consulting.

“We’re seeing nothing short of a headphones renaissance, with consumers making product choices across a wide price band,” says Rasika Iyer, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “With prices ranging from less than $5 to more than $200 and a gamut of features, consumers have now started to purchase different sets of headphones for different applications, including commuting, sport and in-home listening. In Europe and North America, we’re seeing headphone ownership reaching three to four pairs on average, though this includes headphones bundled with smartphones.”

In-ear headphones dominate global shipments, accounting for 61% of volumes, and with the average retail price on the rise due to incorporation of new features such as microphones for mobile use and water proofing for sports use.

Almost every major vendor has introduced a pair of sports headphones onto the market, offering innovative designs, inclusion of microphones and/or Bluetooth and other features. The sports headphones segment accounted for 4% of global shipments, and Futuresource forecasts show this will grow to 8% by 2018.

Many companies are also developing smart headphones, to exploit the growing trend for health and fitness monitoring. LG and a number of other companies already compete in this market, while Futuresource expects a groundswell of activity in this space in 2015.

As the audio landscape continues to expand, Futuresource is hosting The Audio Renaissance, a half-day industry conference taking place in London on 23 October, focusing on the business opportunities within music and audio. Companies speaking at this event include Sonos, 7Digital, BBC, Jabra, Omnifone, Spotify, Digital Radio UK, Wireless Speaker and Audio (WiSA) Association, the BPI and Shazam.

“Audio is enjoying a resurgence, riding high on a wave of consumer demand,” says Iyer, “and this event will cover everything from high resolution audio to audio accessories, from multi-room to smartphones and tablets, from streaming services to the retail landscape and many topics in between.”

Amid all the activity, the leading headphone brands in 2013 were Sony, Philips, Sennheiser, Skullcandy and JVC, accounting for 45% of total unit shipments. In value terms, Beats remained the market leader. However, beyond this the headphones market is increasingly fragmented, as new brands continue to enter the market at various points across the price spectrum, to cater for new applications.

“Moving forward, the global headphones market will be worth $9.9 billion by the end of 2014, peaking at $11.3 billion in 2017 and with volumes continuing to build out to 2018 and beyond,” says Iyer.

At 32 pages and accompanied by a detailed Excel spreadsheet, the new headphones market report from Futuresource provides a global outlook, market estimates for 2013 and forecasts for key trends from 2014 to 2018. Data and forecasts in this report exclude headphones bundled with devices, white label shipments in China, mono earpieces and PC/gaming headsets.

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