When you ask consumers about what they are listening to today, it’s likely you’ll get an earful about iPod and iTunes in response. That is because, for better or worse, MP3 has come to largely define a substantial portion of the audio listening habits of consumers. Some take this as an indication of the demise of the quality audio experience, and a sign of the end of days for home audio. Certainly sales data from a number of sources shows the home and car audio categories bearing the brunt of positive gains in portable audio products. But there is more to this story than meets the ear, and a chapter of it deals with how we are selling (or not selling) audio today.
The latest research on audio purchasing from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) identifies a number of key challenges and opportunities for the home audio marketplace, even in this era of portability. Quality plays a key role.
In short, CEA’s research shows consumers place high importance on quality ahead of price when shopping for a home audio component such as an audio/video receiver, speakers, or a home theater in a box (HTiB). The vast majority of audio buyers (91 percent) rated sound quality as somewhat or very important to their purchase decision. The question is, how are they deciding which product has the greatest quality and are they given the opportunity to evaluate through a demo?