The audio world is as fast-growing as it is diverse. It’s a part of everything we do, and its use-cases are only expanding. “These are some of the qualities that sparked Audio Tech Lifestyles,” says Leon Morris, Associate Director of B2C Sales at Futuresource Consulting. “Audio is a twenty-four-hour opportunity. We listen to podcasts on the move, music at home, radio in the car, and increasingly, audiobooks at night.”
Morris is a familiar face at Futuresource, having worked alongside the consumer electronics teams since 2014. A self-described audio nerd, his experience stretches far beyond the office. This makes Morris the perfect candidate to discuss consumer-centric research. “There’s a push to enhance the quality of the content,” says Morris. “That’s the overarching focus at the minute. What Audio Tech Lifestyles does is provide clients with that third pillar of research to help them understand how the consumer is behaving.”
Audio Tech Lifestyles (ATL) sits alongside Futuresource’s market reports and quarterly trackers, which provide the hard data and forecasts. “ATL is the final ingredient in a trifecta of support,” says Morris.
Audio Tech Lifestyles was launched the summer before the pandemic, and logged Covid-19’s impact on the industry in real time. “The pandemic revolutionised the role of audio in our lives. Pre-pandemic, people were huge consumers of audio. But now, it’s an integral part of work, health, and wellbeing. Consumer awareness of the availability of better-quality audio – for both video and music – has rocketed. It’s ATL that documents these changes.”
Evidently, a lot has happened across consumer markets in the last few years. As global events unfolded, the questions posed to consumers in the report inevitably shifted. “We consider the broad spectrum of audio technologies, from personal devices to smart speakers. Then we break these technologies up into demographics and look at where people are gravitating, what their purchase journeys are, and how their awareness of the wider ecosystem is changing.”
We’re on the other side of the pandemic now, but that’s not to say it’s roses all the way. The ever-ominous expression “innovation roadblock” has been doing the rounds this year, making it sound like audio innovation has reached a stalemate. “It’s not that there’s no innovation happening,” says Morris, “But there is a question mark over the next big consumer trend, which is causing a bit of panic for some businesses.”
When asked about the best way forward for brands, the answer was simple. “It’s about considering what the consumer is missing,” says Morris. “Look at widening the net of your current offerings and zoning in on those consumers sitting on the periphery.”
At a time when the next ‘must-have’ consumer trend is unclear, it makes sense for brands to identify other consumer groups they could penetrate. And in terms of the wider ecosystem, there’s home audio to consider. “It’s a pivotal time for the smart speaker market. This year’s survey takes the smart speaker and rotates it three hundred and sixty degrees. How has the market changed during this pivotal time?”
Published annually, Audio Tech Lifestyles responds to the current zeitgeist of the audio world. “This year especially, the survey will provide companies with the ability to identify new opportunities for existing products. Awareness is higher than ever, but it’s not reached its ceiling. Education is key.”
Audio Tech Lifestyles helps brands get a handle on market dynamics. But at its core, it’s about helping brands better understand the consumer.
“It’s no secret that audio quality is important to everyone,” says Morris. “But Audio Tech Lifestyles dives deeper. We consider what quality audio means to the consumer and what their practical understanding of it is. More than just lossless or high-res audio, it’s about understanding how superior quality can bring an individual closer to the art. It’s about offering that level of escapism that people are really looking for.”
“Take gaming,” Morris says. “For years it’s been at the forefront of high-quality audio. There are many consumers who have the propensity to invest in top-quality hardware which can offer them a competitive advantage.
“The awareness of better-quality audio continues to grow. Consumers have already actively enhanced their audio hardware to benefit from audio codex for video, and music streaming services are offering their customers higher quality music files. But that doesn’t mean quality should end at just a sound bar or headphones. The car is another good example,” Morris says.
The third room, as he calls it, is the perfect setup for delivering high-resolution audio. With multiple speakers placed around an enclosed environment, the car can bring spatial sound to consumers on their commute to work. It’s all about thinking big.
Audio Tech Lifestyles is a publication that gives a historic view. Running since 2019, ATL quickly became one of Futuresource’s flagship products. “It’s fascinating to see how the consumer journey changes over the years. Our goal is to provide the highest amount of value to the client, so we take into account what questions brands want answering.”
To enquire about the upcoming Audio Tech Lifestyles report, get in touch with Leon directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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