CanJam NYC Proves the Audiophile Community Isn’t So Intimidating After All
I have to admit, when I saw the invite come through for the CanJam NYC event, there were some mixed emotions. One of my favorite markets to cover in the consumer tech space is headphones, but I know how serious some followers (and professionals) can be—audiophiles inherently are a little intimidating. So I was excited to cover the several dozen companies that were exhibiting at the Marriott Marquis over Super Bowl weekend, but I didn’t know how far over my head I would be with all of the terminology, big egos, and whatnot.
Turns out, I learned as much about the audiophile community as I did about the new products that were on display at the first-ever CanJam Global event in the Big Apple.
There absolutely were times as I was sitting down with a huge pair of headphones strapped on my head where I didn’t quite catch everything the rep on the other side of the table was throwing at me. Some of the terminology was way above my head, but they were more than happy to explain the tech, how it works, and what separates their $1,200 product from the Beats that I got for Christmas three years ago—and that sounded like top-of-the-line audio to me at the time.
When you boil the audiophile space down, these are really individuals (and companies) who are exceptionally passionate about what it is they do. They’re fans of audio in its purest form. Think of it along the line of sports fans. People who don’t watch or follow sports as much as the average football fan, say, might find it intimidating to try and hold a conversation with a true pigskin-obsessed individual. But a majority of sports fans are as happy as the next person to welcome you into their little cult of fandom. You, the sports fan, might have to explain some of the rules or share some of your historical knowledge of the game to help the conversation along, but you’re happy to do so because who doesn’t love the idea of growing this community.
That’s exactly how I felt at CanJam. I like to think that I know a little more about headphones than a casual NFL watcher knows about football, but it was a cool feeling to learn about the products strewn across the table.
Beyond the Cans
One of the more surprising aspects of the show to me was the fact that not every company there was a through-and-through headphone company.
Sure, the show floor was dominated by headphone manufacturers. But I saw more digital media players, desktop amps, cable companies, and comfort-related products (headphone pads and earbud tip manufacturers) than I ever anticipated. It further proved to me the importance of this space to the CE retailer.
The margins and opportunities for attachment sales in the headphones category—from the products themselves to all of the add-ons—is simply incredible. If we’re talking just about Beats, probably the best-known company out there in this market, their headphones reportedly cost around $17 to build. They then turn around and sell them for upwards of $700 or more.
But it’s the attachments in the audiophile space that really excited me at CanJam. True audio nerds require far more than a pair of headphones and a smartphone to listen to music. There are so many other products that enhance the listening experience, from digital audio converters, to amps, to cables, to (yes) portable media players. Audiophiles look at the personal audio experience at every step of the process and try to improve upon it. And they’re willing to drop thousands of dollars to do so.
The takeaway here for CE retailers: Don’t be afraid to play around in this space. You are welcome in the audiophile community, and you stand to benefit greatly financially from stocking this product if you aren’t already.