Sales of wireless earphones and headphones are growing at a higher rate than their wired counterparts. Global shipments of wired earphones and headphones are expected to reach 250.2 million units by 2016, up from 245 million units that are expected to be shipped this year.
In contrast, 86 million units of wireless earphones and headphones are expected to be shipped in 2016, up from 79.1 million units in 2015, witnessing an annual growth rate of over 8%. This is significantly higher than the projected 2% growth rate of wired earphones and headphones.
Wireless Accessories: A Mix of Comfort, Convenience, and Style
Convenience and availability of a wider selection are the key reasons fuelling the sales of wireless earphones and headphones. Although initially, the target audience was limited to consumers looking to listen music while in the gym or jogging, over time, it has come to encompass a wider consumer base.
In addition to comfort and convenience, wireless accessories have come to be seen as fashion statement among the youth. Manufacturers have delivered on this trend by launching trendy, innovative designs in an array of colours. The combination of functionality and aesthetics has been a strong selling point for wireless earphones and headphones.
While on-the-go music is a crowd-puller, the freedom to make hands-free phone calls offers pragmatic benefits, a feature that’s found resonance among consumers. Traffic laws around the globe bar people to speak on the phone while driving, a factor that’s spiked up sales among the business class.
Online Stores Selling More Earphones and Headphones than Ever
Overall, multi-brand stores remain the preferred distribution channel for sales of both wired and wireless earphones and headphones. Availability of a wide range of accessories across leading brands is a key factor for the popularity of multi-brand stores among consumers. However, as online stores offer doorstep delivery at highly competitive prices, sales through multi-brand stores are expected to decline in the next decade.
Online stores currently account for one-fourth of all earphones and headphones sold globally, and by 2025, the market share is expected to reach 32%. E-commerce websites are gaining traction in developing countries, and sales of mobile phones and related accessories account for a substantial share of all goods sold via the online medium. Sales through online stores is expected to reach 119.7 million shipments, up from an estimated 114.4 million in 2015.
Asia Pacific Excluding Japan (APEJ) is the largest market for earphones and headphones globally. Mobile phone ownership is increasing steadily in China and India – two of the most populous countries in the world. While Western markets are witnessing a period of saturation, Asia Pacific Excluding Japan promises a plethora of opportunities to the consumer electronics industry. Sales of earphones and headphones in Asia Pacific is expected to surpass 200 million units by 2016.
Latin America, and Middle East and Africa (MEA) are the other lucrative markets for earphones and headphones in terms of volume. However, a key point to note here is that sales in APEJ, Latin America, and MEA also include local players, making it a very fragmented market. In contrast, the U.S. and European market is largely dominated by big brands, such as Sony, Apple-owned Beats Electronics.
Innovation, competitive pricing, and strategic marketing are key factors that will shape up the market in the near future. Leading brands, including LG, Sony, Sennheiser, Phillips, and Beats Electronics will be looking at the trends in Asia Pacific closely to leverage on the available and future opportunities.