Today, the digital era is creating new modes of consumption, and a new way of acting and listening to music. However, emblematic objects of the past are making a comeback.
Although the domination of streaming platforms is well underway and technology is not known to be cyclical, the popularity of vinyl records, walkman, and audio cassettes is coming back in force. Today’s consumers are looking for a tactile relationship with their music.
But what are the real intentions? Which artists are the most popular? Does this vintage renaissance affect all countries in the same way? Many questions come from this topic, and we will answer them!
More recently, the use of this device in season 4 of the series Stranger Things (2022) revives consumer nostalgia. The increase of searches for walkmans and audio cassettes between July ’21 and ’22 in France, Canada, and the United States attests the return of interest for this vintage product.
With the rise of streaming, it was thought to be doomed too, but it has not said its last word!
Vinyl records represent in France, the United States, and Canada more than 36 million searches over the last 42 months. Although older, they generate about 5x more searches per month than walkmans and their audio cassettes over the last three years, making their domination unquestionable.
Music is unquestionably a valuable social connector. It has a tangible worth that has been established for years as an engine of invention, exchange, and connection on both a technological and human level. While new trends emerge, old ones resurface …
How each individual listens to music is unique, and the tools available are multiple. All of these changes in the way music is listened to, published, and promoted have resulted in a rise in music content consumption.
However, such an increase is not without implications, and comprehending consumers’ intentions, choices, and interests have grown more difficult than ever for music business participants and users. Whether it’s for a purchase or a need for information, the consumer’s thought process usually starts with a Google search.
Search listening, which refers to the collect of search engine queries at scale, makes understanding and analyzing customer behavior and expectations simple and accessible.
Search engines like Google or Amazon are useful to conduct market research by collecting search volumes from millions of consumer queries
With our Trajaan platform, we could map and segment over 300+ queries around three types of products:
We collected Google search data from 3 international countries, over the last three years: the United States, Canada, and France.
In our case, we also focused on consumer intent and perception around the vinyl, walkman, and audio cassette trend by looking for information on the most searched:
It was in the early 80s, with the release of the first Walkmans, that the cassette became very popular in consumer homes. At the peak of its popularity in 1989, the cassette sold 83 million copies per year in the United Kingdom alone.
In the 2000s, new digital products were introduced such as the Discman, MP3 players, iPod, and especially, streaming platforms (Deezer, Spotify, Youtube …), the walkman with its audio cassettes will be forgotten.
But a few years later, their popularity is back. Indeed, the use of the legendary Sonny’s Walkman in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) contributes to reviving the consumer craze for it.
The cassette allows you to discover an album from beginning to end everywhere thanks to the Walkman.
With more than a billion cassettes sold worldwide since the ’80s and the arrival of the Walkman, the heyday can certainly be explained by the feeling of freedom that the Walkman provides, its practicality and simplicity of use, but also the low price of a cassette. Indeed, even today, a new or second-hand cassette costs between 5 and 10€, which is still the cheapest physical medium on the market. Moreover, compared to vinyl, which is more practical and takes up less space, the cassette has its advantages.
For the past few years, independent and large labels have been reintroducing cassettes into the mainstream, either by incorporating them into vinyl, CD, and K7 packaging or by selling them independently as promotional items.
In the category of technological dinosaurs that are coming back to the forefront, we knew the vinyl, the walkman, and its audio cassettes, from now on, it could be that the CD Walkman will also make its comeback!
The passion of consumers for vintage will never cease to amaze us.
For the past three months, the CD Walkman has seen a 5.3% increase in searches. If we ask ourselves today how all these physical formats could become trendy again, it is clear: people want to remember the good old days with the gold old devices!
There is also an economic reason for the resurgence of the cassette. As the debates rage about the need for streaming services to pay artists, independent musicians have been using the sale of physical merchandise as a source of income.
With the craze around the smell of the sleeve, the feeling of the vinyl material to the touch, and especially the pleasure of putting it on the turntable, for a few years, vinyl stores have become more and more numerous.
In the first half of 2020, sales of the latter surpassed those of CDs in the United States. A great first for 34 years. But the place of purchase of these precious discs differs according to the country.
USA 🇺🇸 & Canada 🇨🇦
Over the last 42 months, in the United States and Canada, approximately 78% of consumers’ purchase intentions are directed toward vinyl record stores.
Conversely, in France, about 68% of consumers are looking to buy their vinyl records online, led by the website Diggers Factory. Launched in 2016, this on-demand vinyl production and distribution company allows for direct transmission from artist to fan.
The paradox between the return to vinyl records and our connected lives is even more present in North America as music consumers go directly to the store to make their choice!
However, a shift in the way French people purchase is on the way, as research on the intention to buy vinyl records in stores has been steadily increasing in recent months.
In France, of the 16 types of segmented features, one feature takes the lead. It is second-hand, comprising alone more than 50% of searches since January 2019! The 33 rpm records are also very plebiscite since it represents almost 30% of the search volume over the same period. These two characteristics are unquestionably essential in France.
Conversely, the features searched for in the United States are much more diverse! Colored, second-hand, signed discs, etc. covet the interest of consumers!
Custom vinyl records have emerged as an important feature in the U.S. with 18% of the search volume over the past three years.
Finally, since January 2019, one feature has become dominant in Canada with a search volume of 43.4%: 33 rpm. The other features are evenly distributed.
In 1948, the Columbia record company revolutionized the music market with vinyl. Today, many artists such as Dalida, the Beatles, Ray Charles … can be found in the record shops.
But what about the artists of our time? Have they been able to seize the opportunity around the attraction of vinyl? And are consumers looking for them?
Queen, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson… These great artists, although disappeared today, remain in the heart of the French. Indeed, out of 40 segmented artists, these three embrace almost 40% of the search volume in the last three years.
However, many 21st-century artists, like Kanye West, Adele, or Justin Bieber, are actively involved in popularizing this format from the past.
In the United States, modern artists are the most popular over the last 42 months. For example, searches for Harry Styles’ vinyl records represent 10k searches per month, and Taylor Swift’s records represent 20% of the 40 artists segmented!
Over the past six months, Steve Lacy, Labrinth, and the band Slipknot are generating the highest search growth.
Contact us to get access to the demo platform showcasing market trends for vinyls, walkmans, and cassettes!
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