If you live outside the US you might not be familiar with CEA, the Consumer Electronics Association. CEA's mission is helping the growth of the consumer electronics industry. This association unites 2,000 companies within the consumer technology industry. CEA also produces the well-known CES International Audio Show.
Slightly more than 6 months ago (July 2011), CEA published a very interesting research titled "Notions of Quality: Audio Expectations of Consumers" where one can find many insights on consumers' listening habits, including how quality in audio is defined, and consumers' behaviors when buying audio equipment.
It turns out that one-third (34%) of consumers define themselves as audio enthusiasts. A rough calculation gives - more or less - an estimate of nearly 80 millions of adults (in the US)! Now that's a HUGE number, the audiophile crowd is much, much smaller than that! Imagine the growth of the HiFi niche market if just a fraction of these self-proclaimed enthusiasts would start purchasing real HiFi gear...
The point of real interest is understanding exactly how one considers himself as an audio enthusiast. Because he is not a video enthusiast maybe? Or just because he listens to (or plays) a lot of music, for hours and hours a day? A music-enthusiast, maybe?
The CEA research also reports there is another one-third (33% = 80 millions consumers!) who claims to have a moderate interest in audio. Among these moderate enthusiasts, some 31 millions consumers seem to be ready to spend more money on better quality audio components (speakers, receivers etc.). Perhaps the HT phenomenon still plays a role here but, this notwithstanding, these numbers are still impressive.
In any case, these are NOT audiophiles. Indeed, many of them are also unsure which types of content and devices provide better quality sound. Imagine that half of MP3 player owners believe this device delivers a high level of sound quality!
Anyway, there's room for improvement, all we need to do is trying to speak a different language. We at TNT-Audio have been trying to do this for 15+ years already (gosh, how time flies!) reviewing extremely affordable components and making efforts to offer the simplest approach to quality in audio reproduction. Incidentally, as the T-Amp phenomenon proved beyond any reasonable doubt, good reviews of inexpensive gear convince novices to TRY by themselves, because the amount of money involved is negligible (hence risk is minimized!). This means one can experience good quality even within a constrained budget...and direct experience is the strongest motivation to purchase better audio gear.
Nor surprisingly, the CEA study reports more or less the same findings. Indeed, the study states that "For years dealers have marketed to audio enthusiasts. But to grow their sales they must reach beyond this eager group and take aim at more moderate audio consumers". In order to do this
"Any dealer worth their salt knows quality audio is technology that must be demonstrated, and hearing the difference superior audio products provide can be the most compelling sales pitch."
This is the reason why extremely inexpensive products play a crucial role: they can help reaching those consumers who have a moderate interest in audio! Hearing is believing, right? Make 'em experience the good sound of a decent HiFi system and they'll start asking for better quality pretty soon.
The CEA study also states that "Consumers today are more price sensitive than ever. Rather than divining their audio budget, start by demonstrating different solutions".
Again, low budget HiFi gear comes into play. We believe this is the best way to help the HiFi market: not only expensive gear sounds exciting, sometimes even affordable one can be entertaining. And we will be here to tell you when, where and how :-)
© Copyright 2012 Lucio Cadeddu - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com