We ask the PCR Retail Advisory Board

Are audio sales booming at UK retail?

With more devices and speaker docks on the market today, are retailers still seeing an uplift in sales, and how much of their revenues come from audio products like headsets? We ask the PCR Retail Advisory Board…

Luke Cook, Product Manager, Ebuyer: ”I’m responsible for case, PSU, peripherals and the whole PC gaming strategy at Ebuyer. Revenue within these audio categories for me has seen a significant boost over the past six to 12 months. Why? One word: gaming.

"The growth we’ve experienced across all peripherals categories is incredible, but the headsets category of products has seen a phenomenal boost in particular.

"This boost has come from a renewed focus and real hunger to engage with gamers and gaming brands in order to deliver a great experience to our end users.

"As for consumer headphones, we’re really starting to see the fruits of our labour. Our great relationship with audio specialist Sennheiser is a real driving force and allows us the opportunity to achieve some great numbers in the consumer audio sector.”

Will Fletcher, Technology Buyer, Toys ‘R’ Us: ”With so much media content now available, whether on the go or at home, it is undeniable that demand for headphones and streaming systems has risen, which is great for the industry.

Audio devices are undergoing a resurgence driven by the way people consume media, so this category makes an important and growing contribution to our customers’ electronics annual spend.

Consumers are choosing to use more and more headphones, speaker docks and convenient tethering methods (which are no longer the iPod pin connector, and are now more likely to be via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi).

To deliver to our ‘tech kids’, we look at how media is being consumed and what products will best reach our market.

We look at our customers as distinct age groups which drive usage patterns. For example, basic audio systems are a stable business in the young age groups.

Looking to the slightly older ‘tech kids’, there is a tremendous amount we are able to provide to this group through headphones, speaker docks and Bluetooth audio, something which grows audio’s importance to us.”

James Gorbold, Technical Marketing, Scan Computers: ”Scan has always seen quite good pick-up in audio product sales with its 3XS gaming PCs and laptops.

However, Scan also targets the larger and more dynamic professional audio market with its Pro Audio division.

This division of Scan is staffed by professionals from the music industry who have an in-depth knowledge of what musicians, producers, DJs and audio technicians need – whether it’s a digital workstation, mixing desk, monitor or anything in-between.”

Craig Hume, Director, Utopia Computers: "Headsets are a big growth item for us. During events like Exist2Game we see sales of headset SKUs rise by around 500 per cent. Getting gamers to actually try on the headset while playing games is key.

"The truth is, headsets from vendors like Plantronics really do help increase a sense of immersion, and gamers are looking for anything that will give them a competitive edge.

"We see attach rates of around five to 10 per cent on headsets with new systems – however, we are working on some exclusives with the likes of Mad Catz that will see this rate increase.”

Gavin Holder, Director, GHI Computers: "There’s no doubt that headphone sales are buoyant and thriving at present. The former fashion disaster of wearing headphones in public was tipped firmly on its head when Beats by Dre came to the marketplace – it’s now bizarrely fashionable.

People purchase these simply to wear them, which has prompted almost every existing vendor (and a raft of new ones) to come to market with stylish designer neckpieces. The consumer has reacted by demanding quality, fueling a boom in high-end headsets. 

For us, headsets have grown year-on-year. Sales of high-end headsets convert to recurring revenues in the form of a repair, as customers seek to keep their indulgent purchases alive. Anyone not already repairing these should do, as margins are high.”

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