According to research published in 2019, the average person spent 10 hours and 50 minutes in their vehicle every week—up 12 percent from the year before. With drive-through and curbside services on an uptick during the chaos of 2020, that number probably climbed higher. Further, people now use their car stereos for everything from streaming music and podcasts to answering phone calls. This offers an opportunity for the mobile audio market to grow.
Here at TraQline, we wanted to see where people have been buying their auto electronics, how prices have changed with technological advancements, and what is driving purchases. Here is a look at some of the insights from our quarterly survey.
A Look at Top Retailers in the Mobile Audio Market
The TraQline survey collects information from consumers on mobile audio such as: car stereos, amps, and CD changers. Which retailers took the lead in the auto electronics market for 2020? The number one retailer was Walmart, commanding an average of 20 percent of the total market across the country. Online retailer Amazon wasn’t far behind. By Q4 of 2020 Amazon held 18 percent of the market, and Best Buy was holding steady at 16 percent. Looking at regional total market share numbers, both Amazon and Best Buy beat out Walmart in the Western and Northeastern regions of the country.
The dollar and unit shares of the biggest outlets for 2020 also offer a glimpse into how the market is shifting. Unsurprisingly, Amazon saw the biggest Year over Year (YoY) gains from 2019 to 2020. Dollar shares were both up 3 percent. Target, not as well-known for auto electronics, also had a significant increase in unit sales.
While Walmart has remained relatively stable in dollar share between 2015 and 2020, the retail giant did see a slight dip in mobile audio dollar share over the past year (directionally down 0.5 percent). Best Buy had the most significant drop between 2019 and 2020, with a 4 percentage point decrease in dollar shares. Both retailers also saw unit share losses, with the most significant drops between 2019 and 2020.
Online vs. Brick and Mortar for Mobile Audio
With the marked shift to e-commerce affecting ever category from exercise equipment to lawn and garden, it is easy to assume that auto electronics are more commonly purchased online. Surprisingly, only 40 percent purchased online during 2020. Walmart and Best Buy saw more in-store purchases compared to the industry average. Target and Sony stores were more in line with the industry as a whole.
Price Trends Have Remained Stable
The brand with the most significant price increase over the last five years is Kenwood ($163 in 2016 vs. $210 in 2020). Other than Kenwood, most brands have maintained relatively stable prices. For instance, a Sony product would cost an average of $130 in 2016 and had only increased to an average of $134 in 2020. Among the top brands, Kenwood, Bose, and Pioneer are the most expensive; Sony and JBL have remained at lower prices and are more in-line with industry averages.
Mobile Audio Market Brand Trends
Sony had a substantial lead for the top market share spot in 2020, holding 16 percent of the market. Pioneer has a slim lead over other brands to hold the number two position with 8 percent of the US market.
Some mainstay brands in mobile audio like Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood, and Bose saw decreases in both dollar and unit share between 2019 and 2020. Many top industry brands have been on a decline for years. Pioneer, for example, has seen a sharp decline in shares, falling from almost 19 percent in 2019 to less than 10 percent by the end of 2020. On the other hand, JBL saw a significant increase in dollar and unit share between 2019 and 2020.
What Drives Consumers to Certain Outlets, Brands, and Products?
What drives consumers to buy auto electronics at specific stores? Let’s take a closer look:
- Why they bought a product: Top reason was to get a replacement for a unit that needed work or didn’t work.
- Why they bought one brand over another: Top reasons were competitive price, quality product, and appearance, specifically when buying JBL or Samsung brands.
- Why consumers bought from certain outlets: Competitive price and good selection ranked highest, most notably in reference to Amazon or Crutchfield.
How many brands did consumers shop before settling? Across the industry, 66 percent of survey respondents said they shopped for one brand, and 33 percent reported shopping for two or more brands before making a purchase.
Final Words on the Mobile Audio Market
Competitive pricing is a major purchase driver for consumers, whether it’s the price of a certain brand or the price offered via a certain outlet. And while some of those top auto electronics brands are still going strong, some up-and-comers are giving mainstay brands a run for their money. One thing is for certain, mobile audio grows more important by the year. It will be interesting to see how the market shifts to accommodate those values in the future.
Are you looking for more insights into the mobile audio market? You can check out our infographic on the topic here, or reach out to one of our Account Executives for more information on how TraQline data will give you a competitive edge in the market.