Performance, Style Battle For Peaceful Coexistence

By TWICE Staff On Mar 12 2012 - 4:01am

TWICE: What is more important to your products’ success — sound performance or style?

Bruce Borenstein, AfterShokz: For us, it’s both. It’s just as important for our headphones to be lightweight, ergonomic and sleek-styled, as it is that they deliver sound that will exceed consumers’ expectations.

Matt Engstrom, Shure: At Shure, sound always comes first — styling comes later.

Ian Geise, Audiovox Accessories: Sales is most important because that shows that your product has been accepted by both the buyer as well as customers.

Toshi Hokari, Imation: While we always want to create stylish products, for us, sound performance is most important. That is our brand heritage and what our consumers look for first in our products.

Steve Kops, Ecko division of Mizco International: A product’s success always has to start with sound and performance before style. The consumer demands, and certainly deserves, all of their products to perform flawlessly. Design and style is the extra push to separate oneself aesthetically.

Konrad Bergström, Zound Industries: We did marketing research when we first started out, and at that time, the majority of people we spoke with were looking for cool headphones. Only 7 percent prioritized the sound. Therefore, we started off prioritizing style but without compromising sound and performance. In addition, we made sure all our headphones incorporated a functional feature that made them stand out from the crowd. We believe high-quality sound, performance and style should be encompassed in all headphones.

We now have in-house sound engineers overseeing the sound performance of all of our products, and we are really excited with what is coming down the pipeline.

Bill Whearty, Sennheiser: Sennheiser’s primary focus has always been about performance, and our continuous consumer research shows us that the most important factor when choosing a headphone is still sound quality and overall performance. For us, style is directly related to good product design.

Andrew Sivori, Sony: Without question, sound performance – though maintaining the balance between performance and design/packaging is critical as well.

Marc Sculler, BellO: I think first and foremost, it’s always about sound quality. When the consumer is purchasing headphones, sound is at the top. In conjunction with that is our opportunity on the style side. For us it’s the opportunity to marry great design with superior sound performance. We’re not taking the position you can produce real style with inferior sound quality … we see the opportunity to provide tremendous design and style that allow people to feel a personal attachment to the products beyond a commodity aspect of just a listening device.

Nick Laperle, Sonomax: I would 100 percent go behind performance, although that style is hugely important. I think it’s the combination of both. Just one makes it an engineered product — you can’t just neglect style. Product can be really cool and look amazing and sound really good, but the ear has zero tolerance for pain, and ears are more distinctive than fingerprints. At the end of the day comfort is going to win. … it’s important to come back to something that’s usable.

Lisa Phelan, Philips: Consumer purchase drivers differ by consumer segment so there’s no ‘one’ answer to this question ... Sound will always be important to overall consumer satisfaction, but what is ‘a quality sound experience’ to one wearer may not be the same for another. Style has become increasingly relevant in the headphones market, but it is also very subjective.

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