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NPD: Celebrity Endorsements Do Indeed Sell Headphones


The ever-growing trend
of celebrity-endorsed stereo headphones coming to market
makes good business sense, according to The NPD

The market research company’s new study, Headphones:
Ownership and Application, states that endorsements are
extremely/very important to nearly 30 percent of consumers
when deciding what headphones to buy.

Music artist endorsements ranked highest among consumers
purchasing headphones for less than $20 and
more than $100, and sales of headphones more than
$100 are growing, according to the firms Retail Tracking
Service. Headphones priced $100 or more went from
around 2 percent of the headphone market in 2009 to 3.5
percent of the market in 2010. Overall stereo headphone
sales increased 17 percent in units and 30 percent in dollars
in 2010.

“The headphone market has seen great unit and revenue
growth as the market for portable audio continues to expand
due to smartphone proliferation,” said Ross Rubin, industry
analysis executive director at NPD. “Low barriers to
entry are attracting many boutique brands, though, which
are quickly creating a crowded field.”

When asked about a potential saturation point, Rubin
said to TWICE, “Clearly, there’s still a relative minority of
consumers that say celebrity endorsements are
important to them.” But, he noted, there is still
potential growth for “products that are marketing
for older consumers or connoisseurs of different
kinds of music. Most of the endorsements have
been focused on hip-hop artists or pop artists,
but for example, Monster has released its Miles
Davis Tribute headphones. We may see more of
that in terms of headphones marketed to consumers
of different musical taste.”

According to the report, on average, consumers
said they bought a new pair of headphones
every 14 months, but teenagers reported buying
new ones even more frequently. Forty-one percent
of 13- to 17-year-olds bought new headphones
within the past three months. Teenagers
were almost twice as likely as the average consumer
to say they plan to purchase new headphones
in the next year.

When looking for new headphones for themselves,
consumers said price, sound quality, and
headphone type were the top three factors influencing
their purchase.

“From the lightweight foam-padded headphones
that accompanied the first Walkman to
the iconic white ear buds that come with the latest
iPhone, headphones have been as much of a
fashion statement as an audio accessory,” said
Rubin. “In particular, younger consumers are associating
artists they admire with a premium portable
audio experience.”

The study is based on a U.S. representative
sample of more than 2,100 consumers from
NPD’s online panel in January.

More information can be found on NPD’s
website and blog:



— Additional reporting
By Lisa Johnston