2020 tipped to be watershed year for Active Noise Cancelling headphones

The aftermarket headphones segment continues to attract consumer spend, with 2019 shaping up to be another industry high point, according to a new report from Futuresource Consulting.

“Headphones are calling the tune,” said Adriana Blanco, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “We expect volumes to be up 11 per cent on 2018, accelerating beyond 420 million shipments this year. Yet, this achievement will be eclipsed by a 37 per cent increase in value, to $31.2 billion, as consumers fix their eyes and ears on the premium end of the market.”

True wireless is cementing its position at the forefront of growth, driving the overall average price up by 23 per cent year-on-year. What’s more, the form factor will account for 30 per cent of in-ear units and 65 per cent of total value.

Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) is also starting to make a noise in the market. Futuresource expects unit growth of seven per cent year-on-year, accounting for six per cent of total headphone volumes.

“A lack of ANC within top-selling true wireless models has been putting the brakes on any real movement, but that’s all about to change,” said Ms Blanco. “Recent launches of popular true wireless models with ANC, such as Sony’s WF-1000XM3 and Apple’s AirPods Pro, along with the launch of Amazon Echo Buds, means the ANC market is primed and ready for vigorous growth. In 2020, we’ll see ANC achieve 62 per cent unit growth.”

Moving forward, Futuresource expects growth in ANC across all form-factors, driven by in-ear products with USB-C connectors, on-ear (Beats Solo Pro) and over-ear models at cheaper price points. By 2023, shipments of true wireless headphones with ANC will outpace over-ear in volume terms, with 18 per cent of true wireless products shipping with ANC features.