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Consumer Technology Association Study Shows Strong Interest in Hi-Res Audio, In-Store Research

Arlington, VA – November 12, 2015 – 
More than half of recent audio technology consumers are interested in Hi-Res Audio (HRA) and three-quarters researched audio products in physical stores, according to a new study from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)TM – formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The CTA study, Consumers Journey to Purchase: Audio, finds the audio category is constantly evolving with new features and products entering the market, including high-resolution equipment.
“The audio market is one of the most rapidly evolving and intricate markets for manufacturers and retailers to identify consumer trends,” said Chris Ely, senior manager, industry analysis, Consumer Technology Association. “Our study identifies several key factors that are involved in consumers’ purchasing process and offers a unique perspective into the different mindsets of different audio product consumers.”
The study explores audio technology purchases in the need-based and desire-based categories. Consumers who buy for need are mainly focused on cost, everyday use and compatibility with mobile devices. Desire-based purchases prioritize the quality of product and brand over value, and compatibility with core audio-visual products. The study also reveals that a need-based purchase is most often intended to replace or supplement an existing product, while a desire-based purchase is most often intended to upgrading the consumer’s total audio experience, which provides  greater opportunity for retailers.
Several key findings from the report shed light on the decision-making process for consumers purchasing audio products:
  • Two-thirds of consumers’ most recent audio purchases (68 percent) were planned, with 77 percent of consumers researching audio products at a physical store and 41 percent doing so online;
  • By an immense margin, headphones are the most frequently purchased audio product (69 percent of consumer purchases), with portable speakers (nine percent) and sound bars (six percent) distant runners-up;
  • Among the factors affecting consumer purchases, word of mouth (32 percent) is the most influential, followed by store displays (29 percent) and need/want and/or online reviews (20 percent).
Interest in HRA is notably strong, with more than half (53 percent) of consumers who purchased an audio product online or in-store in the past year interested in HRA. Music enthusiasts and audiophiles – two subgroups of audio consumers looking for a “better” audio experience – are among the primary consumer targets for HRA. The study finds, however, that consumer interest in HRA can falter when equipment and software upgrades are needed. To combat this, manufacturers should consider marketing on a personal level and offering in-store demonstrations and promotions of high-resolution products.
“Our study finds that ‘connectivity’ is a key area in which retailers can better educate their customers,” said Ely. “Even as consumers more frequently use streaming services and apps at home (86 percent) and in-vehicle (69 percent), they struggle to conceptualize the benefits of connectivity further than sharing playlists or streaming via Bluetooth.”
The full Consumers Journey to Purchase: Audio study offers an extensive understanding of consumers’ retail behavior for consumer products in general and the audio category in particular, including retailers, manufacturers and marketing professionals. The study is designed and formulated by CTA Market Research, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer technology industry. Please cite any information to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)TM. The complete report is free to CTA member companies at Non-members can purchase the study at
About the Consumer Technology Assocation

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)TM, formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, is the trade association representing the $285 billion U.S. consumer technology industry. More than 2,200 companies – 80 percent are small businesses and startups; others are among the world’s best known brands – enjoy the benefits of CTA membership including policy advocacy, market research, technical education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CTA also owns and produces CES® – the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technology. Profits from CES are reinvested into CTA’s industry services.