Hearing the Latest About Headphones

Headphone makers reveal technology, styling and demographic trends

There are two ways of looking at the 2012 headphone market. Close up, it appears to be a cluttered, confusing mass of SKUs flooding the market at nearly every price point, from a measly $5.99 to a whopping $5,999. But the big picture is very different.

The category has risen in importance with the rise and ubiquity of portable devices. Headphones are the bonus “profit product” of the CE industry, with accessories and audio companies alike leveraging listeners’ desire to buy models with high style, comfort and sound quality.

Several executives from prominent vendors recently told Dealerscope how they view the state of the market and what they are doing to differentiate their products from the hundreds of others vying for the ears and the dollars of consumers. Here’s a segment from article that will appear in our February issue.

DEALERSCOPE: What’s new and what will be hot in headphone technologies, styling and buying trends for 2012?

Noel Lee, Head Monster, Monster: First, sonic performance for us is the key to why consumers buy Monster products. The expectation of a superior sound experience is the No. 1 reason why people select a headphone. We’ve shown that if we provide a superior sonic experience they will pay the money to achieve that. Our focus will be to build even higher sonic performance in coming years, building on our consumers’ expectations of high sound quality, but at the same time looking for advances in manufacturing so we can keep the prices within reach.It’s not sound quality at any cost; it’s premium sound quality at a fair price. We think the consumer still values sound quality as the Number One criterion for selecting a headphone.

Second, we expected to see a ‘Celebrities R Us’ headphone trend among our competitors at CES this year. But we believe that a celebrity endorsement is not the key to selling a headphone. We will be doing very limited alliances with the right artists and celebrities, but it won’t be just to put their name on a product – which is what people think has been the secret of Monster’s and Beats’ success. Celebrity endorsements need to be authentic. They have to be for the cause of better sound, and you’ll see from Monster that, even if we have a celebrity, it’s about the true endorsement of the product because they love the sound quality, and they love the headphone.We find that a lot of our competitors are writing big checks to celebrities to get their name; we think that’s the wrong strategy.

Editor in chief of Dealerscope
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  • Geek

    At CES the wider array of over the ear headphones was evident, with everything from glam, glitter and endorsement products Will style sell, I suspect so. With sneakers selling out in the $200+ price point headphones may very well be a growth product. The product evaluation model of performance and price has been challenged with millions using low price and performing white earbuds for years. Time will tell