Between January and June 2019, GfK recorded total sales of €7.9 billion for the global audio devices market, excl. North America. Compared to the first half of 2018, this is an increase of 15 percent. Headphones and headsets are the key driver of growth, together with portable Bluetooth speakers and loudspeakers for the home. There is plenty of growth potential in smart devices with embedded voice assistants and in loudspeakers to enhance the entertainment sound at home. These are GfK's findings for the global audio market to be released at IFA 2019 in Berlin.
Global audio markets have the opportunity to prolong their growth trajectory, experiencing positive results almost uniformly around the globe. Largest contributors are the CIS* countries with a 41 percent increase and China up 38 percent. Headphones/headsets remained the highest turnover segment, followed by Bluetooth speakers, audio home systems and loudspeakers.
Demand for headphones continues to grow, causing prices to fall
In the first half year 2019, in-ear headphones saw a steady sales value growth of 55 percent and accounted with a sales volume of nearly €3 billion for 70 percent of the total headphone turnover. China by far is the largest market, followed by the Western European and Developed Asian countries. Almost 50 percent of all wireless in-ear devices sold in 2019 were true wireless ones (with two separate earpieces). The global market for these headphones grew by almost 300 percent from 2018 to 2019. This high consumer demand has attracted the attention of more and more brands so the number of manufacturers shot up by a factor of three in the first half of 2019. This caused the average sales price to drop considerably to 85 EUR.
Sales of over-ear headphones grew by 11 percent. Western Europe is the largest market, followed by China and the Developed Asian countries. The LATAM region is at a lower absolute level but has been catching up recently, with a growth rate of almost 80 percent for Bluetooth over-ear headphones. These devices that wirelessly connect the headphones to the music source witnessed considerable turnover growth and are becoming the worldwide standard, with a market share of close to 80 percent for over-ear headphones. Just as for true-wireless in-ear headphones, more players are entering the market, increasing pressure on price. In the first half year of 2019, Bluetooth over-ear headphones on average were sold for 90 EUR. The comparison to true wireless for in ear-headphones is active noise cancelling technology for over-ear headphones, whose turnover grew by 40 percent.
Multiroom devices become affordable for a mass market
Sales of multiroom devices, which play different songs in different rooms, increased by 4 percent in the first half of 2019. With more brands in the market than ever before, the technology is becoming more affordable for the mass market. Turnover with these Wi-Fi enabled speaker systems was at a stable +/-0 percent. Manufacturers are increasingly equipping their devices with one or even more smart assistants. This not only allows users to control the device via their voice, but also to integrate it into their in-home smart device ecosystem. This capability has increased consumers’ willingness to invest in these devices. As a result, turnover for multiroom devices with a built-in smart assistant grew by more than 100 percent and the average sales price increased by 67 percent.
For the first time this year GfK has witnessed the advent of Smart Displays as a new form factor for digital home assistants. Although the idea has been around for some time, the chance of it becoming a reality has been accelerated as more manufacturers have entered the market. With the most common voice AIs on board, the displays could evolve into the central control hub for the user’s smart home devices.
Consumers increasingly focus on sound quality and invest in soundbars
Although GfK’s consumer data suggests that people are in general very happy with the image quality on their newly purchased TV, sound quality scores below-average on the sentiment score. This creates an opportunity for external speaker systems. So, while on the one hand consumers are spending less on their TV sets and average sales prices are decreasing, on the other, they are increasingly conscious about sound quality and are spending that saved budget on soundbars. As a result, the turnover for soundbars has been increasing year-on-year, and in 2019 it rose by a further 7 percent. Single-sold soundbars contributed with an increase of 13 percent and wireless subwoofers grew by 5 percent.
Almost one quarter of global audio sales value originates online
In the first six months of 2019, a total of 41 percent of the global audio sales value came from online sales, compared to 36 percent in the same period last year. In contrast to other categories, the increasing online importance does not influence the demand peaks throughout the year. Being a classical gifting category, the audio sales peak is still around Christmas time, rather than in November or during other online retailer events like Black Friday.
Note to Editors
*CIS stands for Commonwealth of Independent States. Member states are Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Modova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
GfK regularly collects data on the sale of audio products and in-car electronics in more than 80 countries worldwide through its retail panels. All turnover figures in this press release is based on a fixed currency exchange rate.
Audio product categories include: Amplifiers, Audio Home Systems, Headphones, Headsets, Loudspeakers, Mini/Bluetooth Speakers, Radio Devices, Receivers, Tuners, Turntables.
During IFA 2019, GfK will be publishing press releases relating to IT, TV, Smartphones, Audio, Small Domestic Appliances, Major Domestic Appliances, Smart Home, Borderless Shopping and the Technical Consumer Goods Market. More information is available at: https://www.gfk.com/press-room/
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