Speed of sound: How headphones brands can turn up the volume with new and existing customers

November 17, 2021 | By Jareen Imam, Sr. Content and Editorial Manager

Whether it’s listening to a new album, streaming the latest podcast, playing a video game, hitting the gym, or working in the office, headphones are often a welcome companion for both work and play. The headphones industry is expanding at the speed of sound as audiences immerse themselves in more ways to experience audio.

The overall headphones category grew by 10% year over year online and offline from 2019 to 2020, according to a 2021 Statista report.1 On Amazon, all four sub-categories of headphones, which include over-ear headphones, in-ear headphones, headsets, and gaming, saw year over year growth during that time period. And despite being relatively small sub-categories, headsets and gaming grew faster than others, according to a survey by Kantar and Amazon Ads.2 As such, brands in these sub-categories may want to consider an omni-channel strategy in order to connect with audiences researching and purchasing headphones.

Online research is important for many customers looking to purchase headphones. About two-thirds of headphones customers, 67%, reported researching online prior to purchase.3 In fact, 72% of online headphones customers who were surveyed visited Amazon before making a purchase.4 And 54% of in-store headphones customers reported visiting Amazon prior to their purchase.5 By understanding the digital touch points headphones customers experience on their path to purchase, brands could help these audiences discover new products.

Understanding headphones customers’ shopping patterns

When deciding on which headphones to choose, many customers who are just starting off on their shopping journeys use Amazon to gather product information, with 58% of respondents reporting visiting Amazon as they started their initial research.6 And two-thirds of all Amazon headphones customers surveyed across all categories, 66%, made a recent purchase on Amazon prior to making their initial headphones purchase.7 Some of the other categories potential headphones customers are shopping in include PCs and laptops, music, and clothing for children.8

As customers narrow down what headphones they are interested in possibly purchasing, brand names become increasingly important as the price point of headphones increases. 74% of customers purchasing headphones of more than $200 cited that brand name is important to them.9

And customers who purchase headphones below $50 make a repeat headphones-related purchase across different brands. Headphones brands that sell products below $50 may want to consider an always-on remarketing approach with audiences already engaging in the headphones category.10 This could be an opportunity for brands to introduce related product options for these customers.

And headphones customers who shop within the mid-tier price range, between $50 to $150, are 1.5% more likely to repeat a purchase from the same brand than customers who purchased lower-cost headphones.11 Therefore, headphones advertisers selling products between $50 to $150 may want to considering using Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products to help bring awareness to customers of products and brands they may need.

Sub-categories of headphones shoppers, whether that’s in-ear and over-ear headphones or headsets and gaming, have different shopping patterns. For instance, 16.7% of in-ear and over-ear headphones customers on average had at least one repeat purchase across in-ear and over-ear headphones.12 The repurchase rates are higher than headset and gaming customers. Therefore, advertisers may want to consider different paths of growth when engaging with different headphones audiences. For instance, in-ear and over-ear brands could improve their generic queries to address high brand-switch rates in the under-$50 headphones category, whereas headset and gaming advertisers may want to create awareness campaigns to build customer loyalty during repurchasing.

Meeting headphones shoppers while driving brand growth

Based on the Kantar and Amazon Ads survey results, many headphones shoppers are browsing for product information online. Using a combination of advertising solutions like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Display, Sponsored Brands, and video ads could help headphones brands connect and engage with new and repeat customers. In fact, headphones advertisers that added display and video ads to their Sponsored Products campaigns saw improved performance relative to Sponsored Products-only campaigns in 2020.13

Brands looking to connect with engaged audiences may also want to consider advertising on Twitch and the Amazon Music’s ad-supported tier, because headphones customers are 1.64x more likely to have recently used Twitch and 1.51x more likely to listen to Amazon Music (relative to the general population on Amazon).14 In addition, brands looking to connect with potential customers may want to consider advertising on Amazon’s Fire tablet and Fire TV especially because all four headphones subcategories over-indexed in the use of Amazon Fire tablet and Fire TV.15

As headphones customers’ daily lives continue to evolve, brands have an opportunity to reach them whether they are shopping for work, play, or something in between.

1 Statista, US, 2021
2-6 Kantar and Amazon Ads headphones path to purchase study, US, May 2021
7-8 Amazon Internal Data, US, June 2021
9 Kantar and Amazon Ads headphones path to purchase study, US, May 2021
10-15 Amazon Internal Data, US, June 2021