CEDIA 2016: CEDIA Session Recap of Growth & Future Outlook for the High-End Audio Market

by Alexandra Martin | Sep. 16, 2016

The power of audio was a reoccurring theme at yesterday’s CEDIA session: Growth & Future Outlook for the High-End Audio Market. Consumers’ attachment to music is a key influencer in the audio market. According to Parks Associates research, two-thirds of U.S. broadband households use a streaming audio service.

The panelists discussed current trends and the future outlook of the market. The session featured:

  • Brad Russell, Research Analyst, Parks Associates
  • Brett Crockett, VP, Sound Tech R&D, Dolby Laboratories
  • Dr. Petros Belimpasakis, Senior Business Manager, Head of Premium Sound Category, Bang & Olufsen
  • Dannie Lau, General Manager, Networked Audio Division, DTS
  • Owen Kwon, President, IRIVER Inc. (Astell&Kern)
  • Michael Papish, Director of Platform Marketing, Sonos

There are several sociocultural trends that are affecting the high-end audio market:

  • Separation from the Living Room – Entertainment viewing is no longer subject to the living room. Tablets, smartphones, and laptops have enabled consumers to enjoy multi-screen and multi-room entertainment. Family members are moving outside the living room to view content they want to watch. A study conducted by Dolby showed that the major use of headphones is in the home, not on the go. The future lies in wireless delivery of audio experiences and screen to screen movement. Ultimately, getting to the point where the sound follows people throughout the home to those second and third screens. According to Parks Associates data, 8% of U.S. broadband households own Wi-Fi speakers compared to 3% in 2015.
  • The Changing Living Room – Younger consumers’ view of the living room is physically changing. Generation Xers are living in smaller spaces with open floorplans. In addition, there is an increased importance on mobility. Younger generations are less likely to root themselves to one home or location as previous generation were.  
  • Disposable Income Habits – The younger generation is allocating disposable income differently than older generations, turning to experiences rather than objects. Younger consumers are turning to travel and other hands-on experiences rather than splurging on consumer goods such as high-end speakers.

While trends in the market cause changes, people’s love for music remains constant. Consumers are shopping for experiences. The next move among the audio market is to match sound to the way we live. As Brett Crockett illustrated, speakers should be like candles – people should be able to put them where they want to illuminate the sound they want. 

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