The global earphones and headphones market size will reach 729 million units and USD 45 billion by 2025. The global earphones and headphones market has witnessed a paradigm shift since the launch of a true wireless headphone by Apple in 2016. With this launch, smart wireless earphones have changed into hearables. Wearables connected to the user’s smartphones and applications have steered the industry toward smart accessories that could double the performance. Major vendors have focused on making comfortable and convenient products, with the ability to eliminate external noises and deliver an immersive listening experience.
Moreover, the functionality to initiate and access virtual assistants opens a broader range for true wireless earphones. These devices can also use the language translation skills of virtual assistants such a Siri, Alexa, and Google Translate to offer users with real-time language translation. Hence, the shift from wireless headphones to wearables and hearables is expected to significantly affect the true wireless headphones market during the forecast period.
Several vendors have launched new models in the sports headphones market, which are sweat-proof and water-resistant with the ear padding removable and washable in few models. Vendors are implementing several IPX certifications to ensure that their earbuds are sweat and water-resistant. Bragi was one of the first vendors to launch IPX7-certified earbuds, which can withstand water-logging for up to 30 minutes. Currently, several variants especially sport headphones, resist some splashes while the user is engaged in outdoor activities. Therefore, an increase in specialized features and additional capabilities are likely to influence the growth in the near future.
- The inclusion of health sensors and other biometric monitoring capabilities in smart headphones is likely to morph them into multifunctional gadgets.
- Millennials are investing in premium headphones that are compatible with smartphones and handheld portable mobile devices such as iPods, MP3, and MP4 players.
- China, India, and Brazil, which are high-growth countries, are set to provide immense scope for vendors to capitalize on. The demand for music subscription is set to increase during the forecast period with the growth in overall economic conditions and high consumer spending index.
- The incorporation of advanced technological features such as noise cancellation, biometric monitoring, improved sound quality, and water resistance is expected to drive the global smart wireless headphones market during the forecast period.
EARPHONES AND HEADPHONES MARKET SEGMENTATION
This research report includes a detailed segmentation by
- Price range
- Noise accentuation
- Distribution channel
INSIGHTS BY TYPE
Advances in audio technology, along with capabilities to cancel unwanted noise, eliminate sound leakage, and control ambient sound is increasing the share of on-ear headphones. These devices have large earpads and cover the user’s ear, locking in the sound and increasing air displacement, thereby resulting in better audio and perceived soundstage. The prevalence of active noise cancellation capabilities is currently lower in on-ear models as they allow for sound leakage and passage of external sound due to their design.
In-ear headphones have the most extensive user base and hold a significant earphones and headphones market share. They are usually placed in the ear to provide sound in the desired manner. A major reason for the high market penetration of the in-ear segment is the low price point of standard wired in-ear devices. However, features such as lightweight design and high portability are the major driving the adoption of in-ear devices. These devices have become a preferred choice among professionals and fitness & sports enthusiasts.
Over-ear wireless headphones offer a built-in capability to reduce external noise and provide added comfort to the user. The availability of features such as hi-fidelity sound and active noise cancellation is creating a buzz among consumers for over-ear devices in the global earphones and headphones market. Moreover, the major advantage, which is influencing the demand for over-ear models, is the inclusion of high bass response. In 2019, Europe was the leading market for over-ear devices, followed by North America. The high share of Europe can be attributed to the high adoption of gaming headphones, which are generally over-ear models.
INSIGHTS BY TECHNOLOGY
True wireless headphones is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 20% during the forecast period. The removal of the headphone jack has increased the adoption of true wireless earbuds. Technologically advanced true wireless devices are focusing on offering several real-time solutions rather than streaming music and answering calls. The availability of high-quality sound transparency, ambient noise control, speech elevation, and augmented hearing functionality is contributing to the growth of the segment.
Although wired headphones have enjoyed the largest share in the global earphones & headphones market for a long period, the segment has witnessed a decline since 2010 due to the growing adoption of wireless ones and increased improvement in manufacturing and audio technology. Moreover, the relatively low aesthetic appeal of wired models has been the main reason for declining revenue in recent years. Another factor leading to the declining share of the wired segment is low endurance limits under heavy use. Wired devices tend to be more fragile than wireless ones. The segment is extremely popular in APAC emerging countries, where wired models are not priced at a premium. Wired models are more affordable for the middle-income population that accounts for a major share of the region’s population.
INSIGHTS BY FEATURES
The demand for smart headphones has grown in recent years as an increasing number of consumers focusing on product aesthetics. Major application sectors such as entertainment and sports have witnessed a high adoption since 2016. Besides, the increasing adoption of handheld devices is a major factor influencing growth. They are mostly used by audiophiles, athletes, music composers, and health-conscious individuals as they allow users to monitor body vitals.
Moreover, innovations in audio technology and sound engineering are placing headphones at the center of the connected universe. With their ability to link with a majority of connected devices, smart earphones are gaining increased attention from developers to be positioned as the central node of wearables and connected devices. However, the increasing availability of counterfeit and low-quality products severely hinders the sale of smart earphones.
Non-smart headphones are likely to witness a slow growth in revenues and units sold. Although an increasing number of users worldwide is adopting smart earphones, non-smart models still have a significant consumer share among non-affluent consumers in regions such as south Asia and central Africa. The segment is expected to exhibit a decline in the growth rate, though the revenue will be positive because of the availability and increasing adoption of technologically advanced wireless devices. A major factor hindering the growth is the competition from unorganized sectors. The addressable market for these headphones is fast moving toward the lower-income consumer base, as the affluent population prefers smart headphones. The penetration of unorganized sector products is high in the low-income population. Therefore, non-smart headphone vendors face intense competition, which reduces profit margins.
INSIGHTS BY NOISE ATTENUATION
The ANC headphones have witnessed tremendous growth over the past few years, mainly due to the rise in high-speed internet and connected devices. The growing demand for ANC in several audio settings, including hearing protection products and protective communication devices, is driving the transition of ANC headphones into the hearables segment that includes headphones, hearing augmentation solutions, and commercial headsets. In terms of revenues, noise isolations earphones account for a share of over 52% of the global market revenue. The high share of noise-isolating devices is due to their relatively lower price range than active noise-canceling headphones, as well as the absence of need supply additional charge to the active noise-canceling circuitry.
INSIGHTS BY PRICE RANGE
Bose, Sennheiser, Apple, Sony, and Samsung are the premium vendors. Vendors are integrating wireless models with hi-tech functionalities such as layered hearing and speech amplification. Currently, smart wireless and smart truly wireless earbuds, which are feature-rich, fall under this segment. In the moderate-range wireless segment, truly wireless earbuds have the potential to lead in terms of sales. Moderate range headphones are commonly available on e-commerce websites, physical stores, and supermarkets. They have better voice quality and playback time as well as latency than low-range models. The absence of innovative technological features can be attributed to moderate pricing, which is an important driver for high adoption. In terms of revenues, North America is the largest market for premium range earbuds, whereas Europe is the largest market for moderate and low range models. Europe leads the market in low range models due to the high number of customers that are willing to purchase earphones in the lower range.
INSIGHTS BY END-USERS
The growing music industry and the increasing popularity of rapping have a positive effect on the adoption of headphones, particularly those endorsed by singers and celebrities. The manufacturers are collaborating with several music artists to launch specifically designed headphone editions, which are likely to drive the pro headphones market. These editions are priced in the premium range; however, manufacturers continue to launch them, indicating that there is a vast untapped market for costly devices. The growing adoption of smartphones has been pivotal in increasing the penetration of earphones. Advances in devices that can stream audio and video encourage users to invest in high-quality and sophisticated pro headphones. The growing fitness & club market and the increasing number of actively engaged gym and fitness enthusiasts are expected to drive the growth of the global sports headphones market. Among sports earphones, in-ear wireless and truly wireless earbuds are becoming popular among gym-goers because of their ability to deliver music and digital streams while being convenient, small, and wireless. Thus, the growing membership in fitness clubs will undoubtedly drive the demand for wireless devices globally over the next few years.
INSIGHTS BY DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS
Retail and online are two major distribution channels for headphones. A majority of the revenue comes from retail distribution channels such as electronics stores, pro AV dealers, and distributors. However, their availability through online OEMs’ e-commerce portals and online direct-to-consumer stores is growing.
INSIGHTS BY GEOGRAPHY
European consumers are showing a high inclination toward paid digital audio subscriptions. They are also actively engaged in fitness and sports activities. These trends are expected to create opportunities for the increased sale of headphones. APAC is fast emerging as a powerhouse in the global market with unprecedented growth for headphones. The region constitutes several emerging economies where the users are starting to differentiate among headphones variants. In Latin America, people are more inclined toward online streaming, and the region is expected to become a leader in online streaming during the forecast period. Thus, streaming is gaining popularity because of the increased number of mobile devices and improved internet penetration. Therefore, all these factors are likely to contribute to the demand for headphones as they offer several functionalities.
The US is a leading market in North America. Millennials majorly drive the market, and they can be termed as digital generation. They are tech-savvy, and most of them are addicted to their smartphones. The number of millennials is the largest working force not only in the US but also in Canada. In Canada, 37% of the total workforce comprised millennials. Even the growing number of internet users and the increasing number of music-based mobile applications are driving the market in the region.
The market in the Middle East and Africa is likely to witness steady growth during the forecast period. The demand for noise-canceling features is expected to rise significantly among audiophiles in the region. The increased adoption of mobile devices in GCC countries, especially the UAE, is providing a significant stimulus for the growth of the earphones and headphones market.
KEY VENDOR ANALYSIS
The global earphones and headphones market is currently highly competitive for vendors. The market remains a little concentrated at the top, with the leading vendors enjoying the majority market shares. Variations in customer demand across the globe and a consistent need for technological enhancement in product offerings are driving vendors to refine and modify their unique value propositions. Bose, Apple, Samsung, Sony, Sennheiser, and Skullcandy are the major vendors in the market and these vendors hold the largest headphones market share. The competition among these key players has intensified in recent years; moreover, the influx of new vendors and tech startups venturing in the audio sector is further putting pressure on the overall competitiveness of the market. Innovation, costs, and convenience play a crucial role in demand growth for such products. Apple, Sony, Samsung, Bose, Sennheiser, Skullcandy are the leading players in the industry.
The earphones & headphones market research report includes in-depth coverage of the industry with estimates & forecast in terms of revenue ($billion) and unit shipments from 2019 to 2025 for the following segments:
Segmentation by Type
- True Wireless
By Price Range
By Noise Attenuation
- Noise Isolation
- No Attenuation
By Distribution Channel
- South Korea
- Latin America
- Middle East & Africa
- North America