TWICE:Are you finding consumers seek an “all-in-one” model that’s sufficient for a variety of listening environments, or do they want more than one type depending on where they will use them?
Darling: I think a combination. ... It feels like our consumer wants a staple headphone or bud for lifestyle that they can use whether traveling, hanging out or at school or work — similar to a staple shoe that can be worn in many lifestyle environments. At the same time, they are beginning to understand the benefits of category-specific headphones such as sport performance and ear buds that never fall out and are comfortable for longer durations of time or gaming headsets, where surround-sound acoustics and communication are paramount to fun and performance.
Palmieri: There are too many headphone styles and uses to have an all-in-one solution. Each headphone type offers its own benefits, and people like variety in color and style. And most headphones are affordable enough that people can have different options for different uses.
Sasaki: Research has shown us that there are specific segments within the market that are growing at higher rates than others, and customers are willing to purchase multiple headphones to fit these needs.
TWICE: Who do you think is the biggest underserved consumer base right now?
Darling: Women. In 2014 you’ll see our brand take a big step for a women’s-specific product range.
Palmieri: The educational and early-learning market segment seems to be the most underserved. There isn’t enough focus on quality headphone products for educational use. ... There should be a set of standard options for our schools rather than settling for product designed for the masses. JVC will expand into early learning this spring with new products specifically tailored for children.
Sasaki: One segment that may currently be underserved are the baby boomers. Many companies underestimate the consumer’s ability to distinguish sound quality and try to hide deficiencies within their products through stylish design or extra bass. Baby boomers grew up on vinyl, which was the original high-res format.