Brand and features beat price in TWS market

As competition in the TWS market intensifies, product portfolios are changing. OEMs that mainly focus on low-priced products, like Xiaomi and JBL are increasingly releasing mid-tier products with additional functions such as Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). While some brands, Google for example, are hitting both low prices as well as premium priced products – likely following Apple’s approach.

According to Counterpoint’s recent TWS Market Tracker report, the TWS market showed little volume change in Q1 2022 compared to the year ago quarter, growing only 4%. However, in value terms it was more dynamic.

Products priced between $50-$100 did better than low-priced products (<$50), while ultra-premium products (>$150) sold more than the premium ($100-$150) segment. As the TWS market matures, consumers are becoming more discerning and are tending to focus on aspects important to them such as brand image, new functions, sound quality, weight and battery life, rather than simply cheap products.


Global TWS Market Share by price band (Q1 2021 vs Q1 2022)

[Counterpoint Research] Global TWS Market Share by price band (Q1 2021 vs Q1 2022)

Source: Global TWS Hearables Market Tracker and Analysis Q1 2022


Global TWS Market Growth by price band (Q1.2021 vs Q1.2022)

[Counterpoint Research] Global TWS Market Growth by price band (Q1.2021 vs Q1.2022)

Source: Global TWS Hearables Market Tracker and Analysis Q1 2022


The low-priced segment (<$50) decreased YoY in Q1, with the Chinese market shrinking due to the lockdowns and resulting drop in consumer confidence. Moreover, major brands such as Xiaomi and JBL launched products in the $50-$100 segment rather than their typical <$50 segment, which helped to grow the mid-range market segment. Skullcandy also did well and was one of the main factors driving the increased $50-$100 segment sales. Skullcandy appeals to younger consumers in North America and Europe based on reasonable pricing and unique designs. As Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi, Motorola, and Oppo are likely to release new products mainly in the $50-$100 segment rather than <$50 segment, the mid-range will further increase.

The premium market grew mainly in >$150 segment, with Apple playing the biggest role. Apple released its new AirPods series in Q4 2021 and the product is performing well; likely because Apple hadn’t released any new Airpods since 2019. In addition, increased sales of TWS models from premium audio brands such as Sony, Sennheiser, and B&O also contributed to premium segment sales growth. Among them, Sony is vigorously expanding its presence by releasing various new models. Sony launched its Linkbuds in Q1 2022, following on from the launch of its well-regarded WF-1000XM4 in Q4 2021.

The TWS market is expected to show steady growth as the competition intensifies with new models offering additional functions and attractive prices. However, we expect the growth of the $50-$100 segment will be stronger than the <$50 segment, despite good demand from emerging markets such as India.


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