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High Res Audio Set To Be Big In 2016, Retail Education Key

High Res Audio Set To Be Big In 2016, Retail Education Key

More than 53 percent of consumers who bought audio technology in the past year are interested in high-resolution audio (HRA), and 77 percent researched audio products at a physical store, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) found in a recent consumer survey.

It’s also been revealed that recent audio buyers need help understanding the benefits of connectivity beyond Bluetooth streaming, CTA added.

The association, formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), surveyed consumers who purchased an audio product online or in-store in the past year.

Interest in HRA is “notably strong,” CTA said, with 53 percent of recent audio purchasers “interested” in HRA. Primary consumer targets for HRA are music enthusiasts and audiophiles, who comprise two subgroups of audio consumers looking for a “better” audio experience, CTA said. 

The study, nonetheless, found that consumer interest in HRA “can falter when equipment and software upgrades are needed.” To counter that, “manufacturers should consider marketing on a personal level and offering in-store demonstrations and promotions of high-resolution products,” CTA said.

As for their shopping habits, 77 percent of recent audio purchasers did research at a physical store, and 41 percent did online research. As for what influenced their purchasing decision, CTA found that word of mouth at 32 percent was the most influential factor, followed by store displays at 29 percent.

CTA also found that headphones were the most frequently purchased audio product, accounting for 69 percent of consumer’s audio purchases, followed by portable speakers at 9 percent and soundbars at 6 percent.

Separately, the survey found that “connectivity is a key area in which retailers can better educate their customers,” said Chris Ely, CTA’s senior manager of industry analysis. “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 study also explored what is important to consumers buying based on need or desire. “Consumers who buy for need are mainly focused on cost, everyday use and compatibility with mobile devices,” CTA said. “Desire-based purchases prioritize the quality of product and brand over value and compatibility with core audio-visual products.”

A needs-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,” CTA said.