By closely monitoring various product-related online forums, consumer studies, articles in thought leadership publications and conversations among people around us, it is becoming increasingly evident that consumers are putting more and more emphasis on the noise level of products. Too many products are way too noisy, negatively impacting the user experience in particular and the quality of life overall.
The increasing commercial demand for quiet products is starting to have effects on the industry, but the range of quiet offerings is still too scarce. And often, the quietest product in a given category is not quiet enough.
With quiet starting to be a key consumer driver, the current situation will have to change in order for brands to remain relevant. They need to further lower the noise in order to offer satisfactorily quiet products. Not only will favorable sound characteristics drive consumer preference and sales, it will also be a source of increased price premium.
Mike Goldsmith, former Head of Acoustics at the National Physical Laboratory and author of Discord, The Story of Noise, was quoted by Wired Magazine:
“Surveys have shown that only 25 percent of people consider the likely noise of a product when they buy it — but that as many as 40 percent regret that fact after purchase. The good news for manufacturers is that half those interviewed said that they would willingly pay 50 percent more for a product that was ‘half as noisy’.”
Hence, low-noise products opens up for higher price premiums. The emotional value of a consumer being able to use a quiet product could be immense.
As the percentage of people who sees sound as one of the key purchase criteria increases, so will the commercial attractiveness of the business of quiet put more acousticians to work throughout new product development and innovation processes.
Lowering the noise level in a product requires that the product’s sound characteristics is taken into consideration at the very outset of the innovation/product development funnel. Companies who try to lower the noise as an after-thought after the product core has already been designed will usually just produce disappointing incremental benefits.
Some brands have already reaped the benefits of the quiet sell. Many more will follow within the next few years.
In the automotive sector, Lexus wanted to take the positioning of being a serene, quiet car and has been very successful at it; currently offering the world’s quietest passenger vehicle – the Lexus LS 600h. Other car manufacturers also aim to position their offerings as delivering outstanding comfort through a low-noise cabin. Citroen has proactively communicated how their C5 model has received extra sound proofing throughout the vehicle accompanied by a gas hydraulic suspension so as to deliver a smooth and quiet driving experience.
These are both challenging and exciting times ahead for innovators, industrial designers, acousticians etc, with the market being presented with a large built-up consumer demand for quiet products that alleviate people from unwanted, stressful noise.
Elevating Sound celebrates the Quiet movement and will be telling you about intriguing innovations in the world of sound.
If you hear about exciting, quiet product innovations, please share in the comments below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org