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Appeal of Headphones Could Help World’s Hard of Hearing: New Futuresource Report

Headphones Market Research, Analysis and Commentary

18 Dec 2018 - The growing appeal of aftermarket headphones is opening up a new ‘hearables’ sub-segment, catering for those with hearing loss and alleviating much of the expense and stigma attached to hearing aids. Amid these market developments, Futuresource Consulting is poised to carry out in-depth original research to explore the enabling technologies, the underlying consumer attitudes, motivations and the size of the hearables opportunity. 

“Figures from the World Health Organisation reveal 1.2 billion people have hearing loss and a further 375 million have disabling hearing,” says Luke Pearce, Research Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “It’s a growing problem for many, and it’s on the increase due to years of listening to loud music, noise pollution and excessive use of smartphones at high volume. Hearing aids are typically expensive and many people feel embarrassed about wearing them.

“That’s where the aftermarket headphones market makes its entrance. There’s a lot of activity in the space, with consumers demanding more features, such as wireless and True Wireless, noise-cancelling technology and sports-oriented products. As brands explore ways to differentiate and compete, they’re beginning to feel out the hearables opportunity.”

Headphones are increasingly used for communication, smart home control through voice assistants and a range of other always-in activities, and brands are exploring products that can remain in the ears throughout the day. Furthermore, some noise cancellation features are loosely based on the same digital noise-reduction principles found in hearing aids. For headphone manufacturers, this presents a significant opportunity to capitalise on these synergies and launch into this now-attainable space.

The Futuresource hearables study will be based on a new program of primary research, consisting of some 150 industry interviews with government health agencies, component and technology vendors, traditional hearing aid and hearables vendors, channel partners and major headphones brands that have yet to make a move into the sector. This research will be combined with Futuresource’s suite of in-depth market tracking services, analysis of the enabling technologies, and strategic insights into headphones, smartphones and wearables products. The hearables report is planned for publication in March 2019, with presales now available at a discounted price.

“Hearing health is becoming a serious public health issue across the globe,” says Pearce, “and with bodies such as the FDA making noises about deregulation, a range of solutions may become available to tackle this problem. The role of headphones makes logical sense, though there are still many complex and technological barriers for manufacturers to overcome before a well-rounded solution can prevail.”


Futuresource Consulting is a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting company, providing organisations with insight into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, storage media, education technology and IT. With a heritage stretching back to the 1980s, the company delivers in-depth analysis and forecasts on a global scale, advising on strategic positioning, market trends, competitive forces and technological developments. 

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