Demand for premium products will remain strong as the year proceeds: Sony India’s Gyanendra Singh
As Covid-19 shut down offices and moved us into our homes to work from there, along with PCs, laptops and tabs, one other personal device became quite vital - the headphones/earphones. People started investing more in the personal audio segment as they turned to it for video calls at work and also for entertainment. But from last year to this year, the trends have been changing.
While initially, it was all about getting the basics in place that allowed us to work/learn from home, now it is moving gradually towards getting better devices to improve the experiences. We spoke to Gyanendra Singh, Head of Audio Business at Sony India, to understand a little more about what the consumer wants now and what lies ahead for the personal audio segment. Here are excerpts from our chat:
What are the changes that the personal audio segment has witnessed over the last year?
In the personal audio segment, Work from Home (WFH), Learn from Home (LFH), and Workout at Home, all these phenomena have given further impetus to the already strong demand for headphones. In addition, in the same household, many people are involved in such activities and their need for personal space has also led to a spike in sales of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) devices. So, more and more consumers are looking for good quality active noise cancellation headphones and earphones. The sale for the Truly Wireless Earbuds has also been very strong. Bluetooth speakers, the versatile device, are also finding favour amongst a lot of consumers for varied usage during the lockdown.
How have things changed from what the consumer was looking for in March last year as compared to March this year? How have the tastes and requirements evolved?
We are witnessing a shift in consumers' choices towards more premium products like 1000X Series in active noise cancellation and truly wireless earbuds.
And how do you see this trend evolving as the year proceeds?
We expect demand for premium products to remain strong as the year proceeds. We also believe that the consumer is looking for features that are functional and also enhance their music experience.
What was the consumer behaviour like in the metro and tier 1 cities as compared to the tier 2 and tier 3 cities?
It's too early to make a meaningful conclusion.
Over the last year have you seen consumers buy separate devices for work and recreation? Or have you seen these categories merge?
While it is difficult to differentiate whether the consumer is buying WH-1000XM4 for the excellent call quality or for the sheer pleasure of listening to music, we can certainly say with confidence that the consumer is buying more good quality devices and is also upgrading the home AV environment. It is a result of more OTT content and consumption of entertainment content.
Tell us a little about the increased adaption to voice assistants recently and how crucial that has been when it comes to making buying decisions for consumers?
Voice assistants will continue to offer more personalised experiences as they get better at differentiating between voices. Google Assistant can support up to six user accounts and detect unique voices, which allows Google Home users to customise many features. Similarly, for those using Alexa, simply saying “learn my voice” will allow users to create separate voice profiles so the technology can detect who is speaking for more personalised experiences. We have a line-up supporting built-in voice assistant features such as WH-1000XM4, WF-1000XM3, WF-SP800N, and WH-XB900N.
What is the ideal WFH audio set up for you that caters to both work and play?
The device of choice is WH-1000XM4 industry-leading noise cancellation headphones as it can connect to two devices, for instance, your phone and laptop, to toggle between work and play easily. Also, it is intuitive enough to let you have instant conversation by simply covering your right earcup with your hand.