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Audio Collaborative 2023: Tuning in to the audio opportunity in retail

After a rocky few years, the Installed Commercial segment is firmly back in a growth phase. In 2022, expansion was remarkable, closing in at 14% year-on-year. By the end of 2023, Futuresource expects the market to exceed its pre-pandemic levels, with investments in the space climbing.  

Retail stores, bars, and restaurants are regaining momentum. Businesses are encouraging the return of their clientele and attempting to attract and retain workers. A return to profitability is now a reality, and venues are locking in plans for upgrades and expansion. At Audio Collaborative 2023, we’ll be exploring exactly what this means for audio brands, and considering how consumer brands can tap into this emerging opportunity. 

A different market environment 

Similarly to the touring and rental market, Installed Commercial was turned on its head during the pandemic. As restrictions eased around the world, some restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen outdoors. The “entertainment portion” of the restaurant and bar did not follow suit, with noise and a lack of infrastructure getting in the way. New construction and retrofits ground to a halt, unlike Installed Commercial, which was able to continue construction under limitations.  

Fortunately, the industry is now operating on steadier ground. Venues are in a position to explore new options to boost trade – and audio could play a major role in this. 

The power of audio in Installed Commercial 

Audio has long played an integral role in hospitality and retail. It’s been used for decades to create an atmosphere, enhance a venue’s entertainment value, make people feel more comfortable, generate a feeling of privacy, and complement the function of a venue. Audio has the power to amplify the shopping experience, making it more engaging and immersive. The prevalence of audio in our day-to-day lives means people expect it as a part of their shopping experience. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, consumers expect audio to be carefully considered and well-executed in retail and hospitality environments.  

For multi-function venues, zoned audio could be a stand-out offering. In hybrid locations like café-bars, hotels, and retail complexes, audio can help create a distinct atmosphere and guide people around the space. For example, a restaurant’s bar may have louder, more upbeat music than the dining area. Similarly, placing speakers outside a bar could entice consumers inside and dually provide entertainment for those seated outside. 

People have proclaimed the death of the high street for years. Paired with the culture shift witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, encouraging consumers into retail and hospitality venues is more vital than ever. Carefully thought-out audio can make all the difference.   

Room for consumer audio 

Professional audio brands have typically been the go-to for retail and hospitality establishments. But with the Installed Commercial market primed for expansion, there’s a growing opportunity for consumer audio brands to provide that service too.  

For audio brands, Installed Commercial offers a clear advantage. Consumers could recognise an audio speaker in a bar or restaurant, leading to increased brand recognition and loyalty. For staff, interacting with and operating consumer sound systems may provide a smoother overall user experience.  

Discover more about this emerging opportunity 

Retail and hospitality are on the come up, with venues seeking to invest in targeted, immersive audio. At Audio Collaborative 2023, we’ll be exploring in greater detail what this could mean for both professional and consumer audio brands. 

Tickets for our dedicated audio event are available now. Taking place on the 9th of November at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, London, the event dives into the opportunities and hurdles facing audio brands in the unique contemporary environment. Grab your ticket here. 

Date Published:

Olivia Lowden

About the author

Olivia Lowden

Olivia Lowden is responsible for the long-form content, press, and partnerships at Futuresource. Prior to her career at Futuresource, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, demonstrative of her lifelong love of words.

Grant Youngman

About the author

Grant Youngman

Grant Youngman joined Futuresource Consulting in May 2023 as the Senior Market Analyst, leading research across the Professional Audio industry. Grant brings a wealth of analytical knowledge having worked in many different industries during his career. Grant’s research will span the entire professional audio industry with an initial focus on publishing the Audio over IP annual report.

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