With so many variations of headphones out there, all with different considerations for style, sound quality and more, how do people choose between them? What do consumers care about the most? We asked to find out.

Headphone buyers care more about sound quality than brand or style.

Though fashion and form have been growing considerations for headphones, sound quality still remains the most important function. Though this is unsurprising, we did find other, more unexpected insights.

Socially-Conscious Behavior 

Interestingly, we found that those who care most about style when buying headphones also care most about a company’s social consciousness when buying products in general.

Buyers who prefer brand and style most care about company social-consciousness.

I found this really interesting. Some may think that those who care about style first and foremost care about how they look. As it turns out, that may not be the case. We found a possible reason why.

Logic vs. Emotion 

Brand and Style Headphone buyers are most influenced by emotion.
Though the majority of those we asked rule by logic, those who favor brand and style over sound quality are more likely to be convinced by emotion.

Though emotion-driven people care most about brand, they are followed by those who care most about style – still 2x the size of those who prefer sound quality. This is where the connection between style and social-consciousness may really come into play.

Perhaps this group’s preferences for socially-conscious headphones are driven by the fact that they are emotion-driven. The feel and look of the physical product are not all that matters to them, but the process and policies that went into making that product as well. These folks want to feel good about what they wear, what they use and what companies they buy from. The other headphone preferences seem to as well, but to a much lesser degree.

This trend is in line with a recent New York Times report, using CivicScience data, showing that today’s CEOs and companies have a significant financial incentive to support social causes they believe in.

Fading Out

Brand and style are all about perception. What this data shows is yet another perception that people care about. Brand and style-savvy headphone users want to feel good about what they wear and what they use. If headphone companies hope to win over this group, they may have to focus on more than just what headphones, or other products for that matter, look like. They will also need to consider the socially-sound perceptions and policies behind them.