The headphones market continues along growth path despite stifled demand in developed markets and global economic uncertainty. Volumes saw incremental growth at 1% in 2022, though revenues climbed by a healthy 9%. This figure is buoyed by the enduring popularity of TWS earbuds, accounting for 62% of global volumes, with figures sourced from Futuresource’s latest research on the consumer headphones market.
“While global inflation is undoubtedly playing a part, the industry’s laser-focus on audio quality with features like ANC and spatial audio is driving price increases in the short term,” says Rasika D’Souza, Head of Personal Electronics, Futuresource Consulting. “TWS is enjoying a more robust battery life, which is giving consumers longer listening time and a desire for better quality.”
The average price of headphones is pushing closer to the $100 mark, new research shows. The average price point climbed from $87 in 2021 to $94 in 2022, with the growing market share of TWS earbuds accounting for much of this increase.
While audio quality is raising average prices, ANC and Voice are demonstrating their relevance by penetrating the lower price brackets. Improvements in SoC have enabled ANC to be integrated into sub $50 models – “Although it’s important to bear in mind that ANC quality varies across price points,” says D’Souza.
As consumer momentum for high-quality mounts, Futuresource expects spatial audio to expand its market share and emerge as an increasingly important criterion for consumers.
“The popularity of TWS shows no sign of waning. In 2022, shipments reached 340m units globally, with smartphone brands accounting for half of these volumes,” says D’Souza. “Audio brands like JBL, Skullcandy, Jabra and JLab are also enjoying a share of the success and seeing surges in popularity.”
In terms of overall global demand, the Asia Pacific heads regionally, despite lockdowns bringing a downturn in China’s market. Shipments in North America underwent a revival in 2022, thanks to Apple’s timely launch of the AirPods Pro 2nd gen.
“It’s great to see TWS resonating with consumers. But as headphones become more standardised, there remains a large question mark over what comes next for the industry,” says D’Souza.
Personalisation is becoming extremely important in headphones, fuelled primarily by app-based controls. “There’s a degree of excitement in the uncertainty,” says D’Souza. “Future innovations could spark the next big consumer trend.”
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