“Most of the action centres around the lower end of the market,” says James Kirby, Research Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “Consoles, with less than 24 input channels, accounted for over 80% of unit sales last year. Not only does the segment take the lion’s share of volume, it’s also the fastest growing, with our five-year forecasts showing twice the growth of high-end mixers. In addition to traditional usage, this expansion is being helped along by a rising number of prosumers using mixer consoles to create Internet content.
“At the high end there’s a different picture. Sales mainly consist of replacements and upgrades, and vendors are feeling the squeeze of a shrinking addressable market in some key verticals. However, many manufacturers are also finding opportunity in targeting the installation verticals and some key hotspots in the market, such as corporate and hospitality event spaces and venues.”
Meanwhile, Futuresource highlights that the online channel will continue to drive mixer console sales across the market. “Although the bulk of equipment sold is at the lower value end, even high-end consoles, priced upwards of $80,000, are now listed online,” added Kirby. “In many cases, sound engineers and technicians are highly educated purchasers and usually know the products they need and want when it comes to replacing a console. With many manufacturers providing their own after sales care, the reasons to purchase through channel continue to become less important.
“In the quest for new business, mixer suppliers are not only allowing customers to buy consoles direct from their websites, they are also radically improving their online presence in an attempt to regain valuable buyer behavior insights and improve margins,” comments Kirby. “This includes branching out into a robust logistics offering, returns handling and enhanced product support. However, online channels are driving down prices and reducing margins, as price-conscious customers stampede towards the cheapest supplier. Yet it’s not all bad news, as savvy vendors are developing innovative marketing strategies and attention-grabbing tactics, as well as sponsoring YouTube content creators and increasing brand outreach through social media.”
After a period of major change, with digital coming to the fore and the introduction of new products like Behringer’s X32, the mixer console industry is now looking to smaller, incremental changes. With a focus on software markets and remote operation via smartphone or tablet, brands are exploring ways to improve competitive advantage, boost brand awareness and create a raft of product features. Providing solutions to specific needs has become more important than ever and brands must look to wider content creation, live performance and install industry trends to gain share in the modern mixer console market.
The new 79-page professional mixer console report from Futuresource Consulting spans the spectrum of professional mixers, from entry level consoles with four input channels to high-end consoles with hundreds of inputs. It also shows breakouts for analogue versus digital and focuses on the five key verticals of touring and rental, installed leisure, portable sound, installed commercial and utilities, and broadcast and studio.