Sales of premium hi-fi equipment have soared during lockdown, according to the latest commentary from Futuresource Consulting, with a “home focused” trend set to drive long-term growth for high-end audio products. During 2020, there’s been “record-high demand” for luxury audio products costing over $5,000, says the commentary, with shipments of soundbar speakers up 32% year-on-year in Q1-Q3, according to its Home Audio report.
“Over recent years, the audio market has witnessed a progressive shift to more premium products,” says the commentary. “Case in point with headphones and models such as the Apple AirPods Pro, along with the Sony WH-1000XM series, which have helped democratising higher audio quality to the mass-market. This trend, which can be seen across most audio product categories, including wireless speakers and soundbars, took another turn in 2020.”
Consumers homebound due to the pandemic has created a “unique opportunity” for premium audio product demand to thrive. With movies and music consumption playing a central role in entertaining consumers during lockdown, having good audio quality at home has “never been as important”.
“People spending less on out-of-home activities such as going on holiday or eating out has freed up discretionary income to spend on high-end audio products,” the commentary goers on. “2020 was a year where consumers who always wanted to invest in products such as a nice pair of speakers, a high-end amplifier or a turntable could justify this purchase, which ultimately drove average selling prices up across many audio product categories.”
Record-high demand has also been seen for luxury audio products costing over $5,000 in 2020, says Futuresource. The surge in vinyl consumption during lockdown has triggered a “strong interest” for luxury turntables, especially as wealthy individuals had more funds available to spend on turntables costing over $20,000. The recently published Luxury Audio Report from Futuresource notably highlights that consumer spend on turntables costing over $5,000 was set to witness an impressive growth of 15% in 2020.
Another strong testament to this shift to premium devices is Apple venturing into high-end headphones with the AirPods Max, which retails at $549. It demonstrates that Apple is confident that consumers are increasingly willing to pay for high-quality sound, but also for products using exquisite materials and integrating more tech features.
“While 2020 provided exceptional circumstances, the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to have a long-term impact on consumers’ lifestyles, notably with remote working set to become more common, and with commutes and business travel also expected to reduce,” concludes the commentary.
“The post-Covid world is likely to be more home focused, creating more opportunities for consumers to listen to music and watch movies at home, which will ultimately place a stronger emphasis on the quality of home audio products. Futuresource consequently anticipates this trend to drive long-term growth for high-end audio products, especially as consumers who have experienced high audio quality are usually more likely to upgrade to perfect their listening experience or access the latest tech features.”
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