Retail volume sales of headphones surged by more than a fifth during 2020. Lockdown measures spurred demand among homebound consumers who were spending more time watching videos, listening to audio and playing video games, with working and studying from home also having a significant positive effect on demand.
Even before the onset of the pandemic, e-commerce had been growing in importance as a distribution channel for headphones. With non-essential retail outlets forced to close for an extended period and bored consumers shopping online in growing numbers due to the pandemic, this trend accelerated during 2020.
TWS earbuds dominate retail volume sales of headphones. Premium TWS earbuds are particularly popular, with their unit price declining significantly during the latter part of the review period, making them affordable to a wider swathe of local consumers.
Although retail volume sales of headphones are set to return to growth during 2022, they will post a marginal decline during the forecast period as a whole – despite a fall in unit price. The fact that so many local consumers having purchased headphones during 2020 will have a negative effect on replacement purchases.
The competitive landscape in headphones is highly fragmented, with a large number of brands (mainly of which are Chinese) driving intense price competition. Competition is particularly fierce in TWS earbuds, where Apple has seen its dominance eroded rapidly by rivals offering cheaper alternatives.
Partly as a result of a particularly sharp decline in unit price, TWS premium earbuds will post the highest rate of growth in retail volume sales of headphones during the forecast period, continuing to cannibalise wireless earphones in the process. As a result, most manufacturers of headphones are likely to focus their research and development and marketing efforts on TWS premium earbuds.
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This report originates from Passport, our Headphones research and analysis database.
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