Headphone Sales Continue To Rise On All Fronts
By Lisa Johnston On Jul 18 2011 - 3:01am
PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. —
Headphones sales in all of
its iterations — on-ear, in-ear and over-ear — have risen for
both units and dollars in the past three years, including a
dramatic 33 percent jump from last year.
According to data provided to TWICE by The NPD
Group, based here, unit sales of headphones from January
through May of this year rose 13 percent when compared
with the same period last year. Dollar sales rose 33 percent
year over year, besting the prior year’s 23 percent uptick.
Several factors can take claim for the increase, said
Ross Rubin, NPD’s industry analysis director, including
new entrants to the market and differentiation in terms of
audio quality and design.
The rise in music-capable smartphones can also lay
claim to rising headphones sales. “We’ve seen an explosion
of mobile music on headphones,” Rubin said. “We’re
seeing headphones manufacturers add microphones
to their products to accommodate the calling function,
[which was] not a consideration prior to the growth of music
phones that can access services like Pandora.”
When asked about a point of market saturation, Rubin
said that as smartphone sales rise, so too will headphones.
“We continue to see smartphones grow, and that is a key
enabler for mobile music because those products are often
tied to a data plan. That opens the door to, for example, live
streaming of mobile music. As smartphone penetration continues
to grow, there will be more customers looking for better audio solutions than what comes with the device,
and to replace those [headphones] as well.”
Rubin also cited celebrity endorsements as a
factor in rising sales for the category, and thus
it’s no surprise that Monster Cable and its hugely
popular Beats by Dr. Dre line took the top spot
in two out of three categories for dollar sales.
Skullcandy, however, bested Monster in the inear
category for dollar sales, despite the fact that
its costliest SKU is currently $69.99. Rubin called
the company a “successful brand” and said that
it’s seen strong growth in distribution. “It’s available
in far more locations than it had been in the
past,” he noted. “Yes, while it’s a relatively low
price compared to Bose or Monster, the products
still sell for a premium vs. the average in our key
step-up products or younger mobile consumers.”
TWICE has rounded up some of the most recent
entrants to the market.