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Global Headphones Market Posts Better-than-expected Q2 Results

Headphones Market Insights and Commentary

The global headphones market held up better than anticipated in the period April-June 2020, as units and prices fared relatively well, particularly from mid-May. That’s according to the latest preliminary quarterly tracker results from Futuresource Consulting, which reveals a 13% year-on-year increase in value for Q2. The research also confirms that units posted an 8% year-on-year contraction for the quarter, better than expected.

Price-led Strategies Hit the Right Note

“Despite Q2 marking the worst of COVID-19’s disruption in many geographies to date, the headphones market showed resilience, with parts of this market benefitting from aspects of lockdown and remote working,” says Adriana Blanco, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “Although March and April were hit hard, many brands came back fighting, with product promotions and multiple offers. There’s no doubt that the strategy was well-timed, coinciding with consumers improving their home offices and home entertainment equipment to carry them through the Coronavirus storm.”

True wireless leads the charge, applying upward pressure to overall headphone shipments and accounting for more than 40% of the headphones shipped in Q2 2020. Compared to Q1, volumes have almost doubled, with the popularity of Apple true wireless also pushing up the average selling price of the segment.

Tech Brands in Control

“Apple continued to perform well in many world regions,” says Blanco, “leading the brand rankings in Q2 for the true wireless segment thanks to the continued success of AirPods Pro, as well as securing the top spot overall. Tech brands are out in force across the sector, occupying four of the top five global brand share positions, with JBL the only audio brand battling it out among Apple, Sony, Xiaomi and Huawei.”

China Leads Recovery

Despite the many challenges, supply side issues were mostly resolved by the end of Q2. China led the recovery as Q2 kicked in, while other countries followed in its wake during May and June. China has exerted its influence on the global headphone category over the last 12 months, and is on track to capture more market share, with Xiaomi and Huawei leading the way. However, local brands such as Anker and Edifier, which typically target overseas markets, temporarily shifted their focus to the domestic market during the pandemic.

Problems Linger Where Bricks and Mortar Dominate

“India, Italy, Spain and certain other countries suffered during the period from a combination of severe lockdown measures and a reliance on physical retailing, which resulted in relatively weak performances in Q2,” says Blanco. “As a whole, the headphone market in Latin America also saw a contraction year-on-year, although performance varied by country.”

As consumers and retailers adapted to lockdown, the shift to online sales accelerated in Q2. Results from a recent Futuresource consumer research study carried out in the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and China showed that one third of people have become newly-accustomed to buying online during lockdown and will continue to buy online once lockdown has lifted.

For more information on the Worldwide Headphones quarterly tracker from Futuresource, contact Leon Morris via

Date Published:

Adriana Blanco

About the author

Adriana Blanco

Adriana joined Futuresource Consulting in 2018 and is a member of the Consumer Electronics research team, focusing on consumer headphones. Her main responsibilities include quarterly tracking of this segment by brand, by type(In-ear, true wireless, on-ear and over-ear) and by region, identifying key trends driving this market and analysing data gathered to develop meaningful market estimates and forecast.

Prior to joining Futuresource Consulting, Adriana spent 18 years at Gartner as a member of the Semiconductor team, focusing on research on the vendor side.

Adriana holds a Bachelor of Science(BSc) in Civil Engineering from the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia, and a MSc in Numerical methods in Engineering from CIMNE in Barcelona, Spain.


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