Two guys walk into the gym and one guys says to the other, "How many congressmen does it take to lift a dumbbell?" The other guy pulls off his headphones and says, "What?" That is obviously not the punchline, but I find it strangely funny that two people can decide to work out together and attempt to have a conversation while they are both wearing headphones (I see this all the time at the gym). If you can’t tell by now, I’m also a grumpy old man who doesn’t understand much of today’s iGeneration and their constant need to watch and listen to their phones. However, I suppose my generation can take some of the blame for starting this trend with the Sony Walkman cassette player back in the 70’s.
Rather than fight the trend, I’m embracing it at gap intelligence where we just starting tracking the booming category of Headphones! While I knew from personal observation that this was a big category, I didn't realize how big it actually was until I looked at our newly released database and found that over 3,300 unique headphones are currently available in the US.
Most of these products are found within the e-commerce channel (e.g. Amazon), but if you were to walk into a Best Buy store, you’d still find over 150 different headphones as shown in the chart below:
I've also learned that, in addition to wireless headphones, there are now “true” wireless products. You can thank the popularity of Apple’s AirPods for this phenomenon, which eliminated the need for a wire between the two earpieces. Other wireless headphones only eliminated the wire going to the music source (e.g., smartphone), but still included a physical wire or bridge between the earpieces. As you can see in the table below, Best Buy current stocks 25 different true wireless headphones SKUs and this number is growing rapidly.
So, the next time you think I’m ignoring you at the gym, check my ears. You may find a little device in each one while I’m rocking out to Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon" for the ten-thousandth time.
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