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Global headphones market holding up better than expected - report
Tue, 18th Aug 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The global headphones market has seen a 13% year-on-year growth in retail value for the second quarter of 2020, according to new research from Futuresource.

The market held up better than anticipated in the period April-June 2020, as units and prices fared relatively well, particularly from mid-May. Futuresource also reports that units posted an 8% year-on-year contraction for the quarter, better than expected.

"Despite Q2 marking the worst of COVID-19s disruption in many geographies to date, the headphones market showed resilience, with parts of this market benefitting from aspects of lockdown and remote working," says Adriana Blanco, senior market analyst at Futuresource Consulting.

"Although March and April were hit hard, many brands came back fighting, with product promotions and multiple offers. There is no doubt that the strategy was well-timed, coinciding with consumers improving their home offices and home entertainment equipment to carry them through the Coronavirus storm," she says.

True Wireless leads the charge, applying upward pressure to overall headphone shipments and accounting for more than 40% of the headphones shipped in Q2 2020. Compared to Q1, volumes have almost doubled, with the popularity of Apple True Wireless also pushing up the average selling price of the segment.

Tech brands in control

Apple continued to perform well in many world regions, leading the brand rankings in Q2 for the True Wireless segment thanks to the continued success of AirPods Pro, as well as securing the top spot overall.

"Tech brands are out in force across the sector, occupying four of the top five global brand share positions, with JBL the only audio brand battling it out among Apple, Sony, Xiaomi and Huawei," says Blanco.

China leads recovery

Despite the many challenges, supply side issues were mostly resolved by the end of Q2.

China led the recovery as Q2 kicked in, while other countries followed in its wake during May and June. China has exerted its influence on the global headphone category over the last 12 months, and is on track to capture more market share, with Xiaomi and Huawei leading the way.

However, local brands such as Anker and Edifier, which typically target overseas markets, temporarily shifted their focus to the domestic market during the pandemic.

Problems linger where bricks and mortar dominates

"India, Italy, Spain and certain other countries suffered during the period from a combination of severe lockdown measures and a reliance on physical retailing, which resulted in relatively weak performances in Q2," says Blanco.

"As a whole, the headphone market in Latin America also saw a contraction year-on-year, although performance varied by country."

As consumers and retailers adapted to lockdown, the shift to online sales accelerated in Q2.

Results from a recent Futuresource consumer research study carried out in the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and China showed that one third of people have become newly-accustomed to buying online during lockdown and will continue to buy online once lockdown has lifted.