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Premium Headphones Thank Healthy Consumers For 21% Growth: NPD

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — The premium U.S. headphone market jumped 21 percent in sales in 2013, The NPD Group said, spurred in part by a rise in fitness-related features.

Premium headphones, which are models that cost $100 or more, surpassed $1 billion for the year. The stereo headphones market, meanwhile, grew 11 percent to $2.3 billion in 2013.

An increase in fitness-related features helped drive the growth, NPD said, as did an increase in smartphone ownership. Both Bluetooth and waterresistant models saw a year-over-year jump in units shipped, of 93 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

Exercise was cited as the No. 1 use of headphones among consumers for the third year in a row, and in-ear headphones comprised 51 percent of total unit sales in 2013.

Ben Arnold, NPD executive director, industry analyst, noted in a statement: “Nearly two-thirds of headphone users exercise while using their headphones and that number increases to three-quarters when we look at the 18- to 34-year-old segment.”

Fifty-five percent of overall headphone owners connected to a smartphone in 2013, which is up from 36 percent in 2012. Tablet connection also grew, from 15 percent of overall headphones users in 2012 to 35 percent in 2013.

Consumers with premium headphones upped these connection figures a bit: Sixty-one percent of premium headphones were connected to a smartphone and 49 percent to a tablet.

Consumers connecting their headphones to an MP3 player fell to 54 percent in 2013.