The global headphones market celebrated a good year in 2020, growing in both volumes and retail value, to reach 480m units and generate $44 billion. As consumers have spent more time at home throughout the pandemic, headphones really have become an integral device in our daily lives. Households have spent more time multitasking - listening to a combination of music, watching entertainment content, and integrating the different aspects of virtual communication involved with home working, home-learning and socialising.
Over the last couple of years, and particularly during the pandemic, we have seen significant overlap in use-cases (office, gaming, health & wellness) which we expect will continue post pandemic. ‘The varied use cases are also merging with the TWS form factor to create new use-case specific segments’, commented Rasika D'Souza, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting.
In its latest market outlook reports, Futuresource goes on to map out the global headphone landscape, including the new emerging segments that have evolved around these use-cases:
There are certainly interesting use cases and categories that are evolving; however according to Futuresource, these ‘segment-specific’ products are set to remain relatively niche. Conversely, the market points to some of these features finding their way into a ‘one-product-fits-all’ solution. D'Souza comments, “it is likely future products will have to include features which satisfy these specific use-cases, for example including things such as an IPX4 rating, gaming modes, improved microphone capabilities, compatibility to video conferencing software, conversational enhancement, sound personalisation features or biometrics”.
2020 and beyond for TWS
According to Futuresource Consulting, COVID-19 has accelerated the demand for True Wireless (TWS) earbuds. These devices have improved significantly in terms of connectivity and battery life and are able to satisfy multiple use cases, which benefitted its uptake during the pandemic.
The growth in demand for TWS was also driven by the decision of major smartphone brands to drop the headphone jack and now a lack of bundled-in-the-box wired headphones. However, the growth of TWS is at the expense of other form-factors such as Wired models and On-Ear which have continued to see rapid decline.
Futuresource concludes that 2021 is expected to be another year of growth, with smartphone brands dropping bundled headphones and travel retail reopening as we return to the ‘new normal’. Growth is also expected from China, as well as other developing regions where True Wireless has become more affordable.
For more information regarding the Futuresource’s Global Headphone and Hearables Reports or market trackers please contact Leon Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org
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