The professional headphones market achieved global revenues of more than US$540 million last year, and is on track to reach nearly US$800 million by 2023, according to a comprehensive new market report from Futuresource Consulting.
“The professional headphones market is a hunting ground for pro vendors and consumer brands alike,” says James Kirby, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “It acts as a gateway for pro audio vendors to step into the world of consumer headphones, one of the largest consumer audio markets on the planet. Conversely, for consumer brands, the association with professional equipment gives a boost to brand reputation and acts as a signifier of quality. As a result, we’re seeing a groundswell of activity from both camps, as well as an increasing percentage of audiophile consumers diverting their spend to professional headphones.”
Within the report, Futuresource has identified, sized and analysed six key verticals by product type: live and rental, DJ, professional studio, home studio, broadcast and communication, and consumer usage. While all offer differing levels of growth potential and require their own strategies, they are deeply interlinked, each providing an important channel of influence.
Consumer usage, home studio, and live and rental are the three largest segments by value, accounting for 77% of total revenues in 2018. Alongside the DJ market, these segments were responsible for the lion’s share of last year’s 8% revenue growth.
“Consumer usage leads the way,” says Kirby, “with consumers turning to professional headphones for a number of reasons. There’s a growing audiophile market; plus, lifestyle listeners and the emerging mid-range headphone enthusiasts are searching for ways to get more pleasure from their listening. In addition, gamers are craving a more immersive experience and amateur musicians are hooking up pro headphones to their instruments. All this activity has propelled the consumer usage category to the top spot for professional headphones sales. We expect consumer usage to continue to climb beyond the forecast period, providing professional headphones manufacturers with lucrative new areas for growth far into the future.
“But it’s not all about the consumer. There’s plenty of opportunity in key professional markets, particularly live and rental, as well as content creation.”
Most consumer usage relates to over-ear solutions, both open-back and closed, whereas the live and rental market accrues most of its volume and value from professional in-ear monitors. In terms of revenue, custom moulded solutions take by far the highest market share due to their relatively high ASPs when compared with universal fit in-ear monitors. However, when it comes to market volume, the live market shows similar potential for both types. For content creation, both in professional studios and home studios, closed back headphones command by far the majority of spend.
“There are a wide range of macro trends impacting each of the segments by region and by end user type,” says Kirby. “Each individual country exhibits complex and varied growth patterns for each application. DJing continues to experience worldwide development, though there is an array of new brands vying for attention. Meanwhile, the home studio is being inundated by lower cost brands, all fighting to take market share from premium vendors.
“While the market continues to experience stable growth, brands must seek out the appropriate marketing strategies to address both the professional market and the true consumer and audiophile markets. Success will rest with the companies that can make this happen without jeopardising one market in favour of the other.”
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