Audio News from wifihifi:

Published: 11/13/2015 08:00:01 AM EST

sonaDAC Front Angle WhiteThe Consumer Technology Association (CTA), formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) conducted a study that found than more than half of recent audio technology consumers are interested in hi-res audio, and three-quarters researched audio products in physical stores.

The study, entitled Consumers Journey to Purchase: Audio, explored audio technology purchases in the need-based and desire-based categories. Consumers who buy for need, reports the study, are focused on cost, everyday use, and compatibility with mobile devices. Those who buy for desire, however, prioritize quality and brand over value, and compatibility with core AV products. The CTA considered a “need-based” audio technology purchase one that would replace or supplement an existing one, while a desire-based purchase would be meant to upgrade a total audio experience.

These results seem a bit obvious: naturally, if someone is buying something unexpectedly because a product broke or is no longer compatible with other products, it would make sense that price would come first. Likewise, by definition, an upgrade constitutes an improvement, which would almost certainly require better quality, and thus brand, as primary concerns.

Nevertheless, Chris Ely, Senior Manager, Industry Analysis at the CTA, stresses that the “audio market is one of the most rapidly evolving and intricate markets for manufacturers and retailers to identify consumer trends.”

The study unearthed some additional data. Two-thirds of consumers’ most recent audio purchases (68%) were planned, with 77% of consumers researching audio products at a physical store and 41% online.

What’s the most frequently-purchased audio product? It probably comes as no surprise that that would be headphones at 69%, followed by portable speakers (9%), and soundbars (6%). It’s interesting to note not just the top-three categories, but the marked gap between the number-one audio products and the other two.

Among the factors affecting consumer purchases, word-of-mouth (32%) is the most influential, followed by store displays (29%) and need/want and/or online reviews (20%).

Fifty-three per cent of consumers who purchased an audio product online or in-store in the past year reported interest in high-res audio. Music enthusiasts and audiophiles – two subgroups of audio consumers looking for a “better” audio experience – are among the primary consumer targets for high-res audio. The study finds, however, that consumer interest in high-res can falter when equipment and software upgrades are needed. To combat this, the CTA recommends that manufacturers consider marketing on a personal level and offering in-store demonstrations and promotions of high-resolution products.

One barrier to adoption is education around connectivity, and the use of streaming services and apps. “[Customers] struggle to conceptualize the benefits of connectivity further than sharing playlists or streaming via Bluetooth,” says Ely.