HERTFORDSHIRE, UK – The global home audio category posted second quarter shipment growth of 20% and 10% value growth sequentially, according to Futuresource Consulting.

The research firm says the outcome contradicts industry predictions that suggested the second quarter would be significantly worse than the first quarter. Second quarter volume also outperformed the same quarter last year.

“Our findings show the category was hit hard in April, as expected, but that was followed by a convincing return to strength in May and June,” said Guy Hammett, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “As with the first quarter, there have been some widely varying regional differences. APAC has led the rebound, driven by a strong performance from China, as life there regained a sense of normality in the second quarter. North America and Western Europe are also outperforming many other regions, with extensive government interventions cited as the primary contributor to the strong performances in these economies.”

Volume outperformed value, as consumers focused most of their attention on entry-level models, securing bargains and getting a good deal, Futuresource says. This was particularly true for soundbars, which received a boost from the video entertainment boom during lockdown, yet most of the major soundbar vendors have reported stronger sales for lower-end products.

Smart speakers continued to dominate the landscape, appealing to consumers, achieving double-digit year-over-year growth. Not only are smart speakers generally low cost and designed for in-home use, which makes them suited to the current climate, but they are also predominantly bought online and have been able to side-step the fallout from physical retail closures, says the firm.

The Bluetooth speaker category experienced a volatile quarter, with a marked drop in sales in April, followed by a moderate recovery in May and strong performance in June. As these devices are suited to outdoor use, it is no surprise they were not seen as a priority during lockdown. However, sales have picked up as lockdowns have eased around the world, and early indications for the third quarter also show promise.

“Looking to the brands, smart speaker vendors continue to capture share and dominate the overall home audio market,” said Hammett. “Tech giants such as Amazon, Google, Baidu, Alibaba and Xiaomi are crowding out the traditional audio brands, with JBL the only audio brand to gain a position in the top five based on unit brand share.”

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