March 30, 2021
Strong demand for more intelligent TWS earbuds confirmed in latest consumer survey
Our latest independent consumer survey results are in and show strong demand for new AI-driven capabilities on true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds.
Carried out by respected company Sapio Research among people who own true wireless earbuds in the US and UK, the survey shows that while 84% of respondents purchased earbuds in the last 12 months, nearly two-thirds plan to replace their earbuds within the coming 12 months. This means that OEMs need to react quickly to meet consumer demand and win market share in one of the fastest-growing consumer electronics sectors. To illustrate the growth rate, analyst firm Canalys forecasts that the number of TWS earbuds shipped in 2024 will reach 520 million (up from 250 million shipped in 2020).
As well as a strong desire for new devices, our survey also highlighted that consumers want their next devices to do more. When respondents were asked if they would prefer their earbuds to intelligently adjust settings on their behalf, rather than physically interacting with them, 63% of respondents agreed, rising to 69% among those earning more than $35,000 in the US and £30,000 in the UK.
In addition, survey participants provided strong positive responses to several new TWS earbud experiences, that will be enabled by sound recognition on next-generation products.
Our research is clear; consumers love earbuds, but they are demanding more sophisticated features that enable them to enjoy immersive audio experiences while intelligently responding to the world around them at the right time.
The new AI features that we explored in our research will help earbud brands to stand out among the intense competition by improving convenience and user experience.
Leading analysts agree. Luke Pearce at Futuresource said recently that “the rate of innovation in new products is fueling the consumer’s need for premium audio quality married with convenience… audio quality is no longer a sufficient selling point on its own.” A point echoed by Cynthia Chen at Canalys, who said, “[users] continue to demand devices to do even more and provide an excellent user experience.”
Ultra-compact sound recognition technology will underpin a lot of new user experiences that exceed consumer expectations. It will, in turn, enable OEMs to grow and protect their share of a fascinating market.
About the survey methodology
The survey was conducted among over 2,005 true wireless earbud and smartphone owners in the US and UK, all between 18 and 44 years of age and representative of gender and location.
Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 2.2 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.