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TWS remains a firm consumer favourite while open-ear audio gains traction

Consumers have an unwavering appetite for TWS technology, a new research study from Futuresource Consulting shows. Audio Tech Lifestyles, the firm’s annual consumer research survey, sheds light on the behaviours and habits of audio technology consumers across the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and China. 

The survey noted that TWS ownership sits at 58%, making it the highest among all other form factors. Open-ear audio is also gaining momentum, as consumers look for new ways to listen on-the-go. 

TWS supremacy shows no sign of wavering 

“TWS remains the form factor of choice for the majority of consumers,” says Rasika D’Souza, Head of Personal Electronics, Futuresource Consulting. “It’s become truly ubiquitous within the headphones market, although wireless over-ear headphones prove the most popular choice for gaming, connecting to TV sound, and at-home music listening.” 

The robustness and versatility of TWS are pushing the technology to become a one-stop solution for consumers. Most are willing to pay a sensible price premium for comfort and quality, which is driving extended replacement cycles. 

“We’re seeing consumers transition to just one or two pairs of headphones, contributing to a longer-term trend that will see multiple ownership begin to fall. Our ATL survey shows that currently, most consumers own around two sets of headphones.” 

Open-ear audio gains traction as a new way to listen ‘on-the-go’ 

While TWS remains the dominant choice, open-ear audio is beginning to gain traction among certain use-cases. The technology enables consumers to have a greater awareness of their surroundings, which is helping open-ear audio gain a reputation as a new way to listen while out and about. 

“Our survey revealed that 4% of respondents now own open-ear audio,” says D’Souza. 

ANC becomes an increasingly necessary feature 

“ANC is also becoming non-negotiable for headphone shoppers. Over a quarter of our respondents consider ANC as a necessity in all pairs of headphones they own, while more than two-thirds think ANC is an important factor when purchasing a new pair.” 

The technology’s functionality is at its best in wireless over-ear headphones, with the majority of these headphones offering ANC support. 

Cost-of-living drives longer replacement cycles 

While the strength of TWS hardware is driving longer replacement cycles, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis has emerged as another contributing factor. Price-conscious consumers are opting to repair hardware rather than replace it, which means consumers are less likely to seek new pairs of headphones. 

“Our survey showed that just over half of respondents are willing to repair their headphones, with one-third of which willing to pay up to 30% of the original cost of the device to do so. A sizeable 57% are willing to replace their batteries instead of their headphones,” says D’Souza. 

While there’s a clear shift towards repair over replacement, almost one-third of respondents plan to upgrade in the next 12 months, driven by a desire for better quality audio or specific features. 

“Longer replacement cycles are fantastic news for the planet and for consumers seeking to tighten their belts. Brands should consider how they can offer additional value to consumers as listening habits continue to evolve,” says D’Souza. 

Get in touch with to enquire about the Audio Tech Lifestyles report. 

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.

Rasika D'Souza

About the author

Rasika D'Souza

Rasika joined Futuresource Consulting in 2012 after completing her MSc in Marketing from Cranfield University. She started as an analyst in the CE hardware team, specialising in audio. She currently heads up the personal electronics team and leads the headphones/ hearables, wearables, mobile and gaming services.

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