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Lo-res_636970966-SThe Coachella music festival is renowned for its diverse slate of artists, fashion-forward trends among audience members, and success in prompting massive ticket sales. Its popularity makes it a viable site to access an appealing target market of consumers, namely, young, trendy music fans with disposable income who actively seek to take some risks in their purchase decisions. Noting this promising option, Bose introduced its latest product, sunglass frames with miniature speakers built into them, at the most recent Coachella, to spread the word and test the appeal of these new products.

Expanding the notion of wearables—that is, technological devices that consumers can wear, such as smart watches—the sunglasses represent hearables: technological devices that consumers can listen to without the need for separate earphones. The sunglass frames, in addition to the tiny speakers, contain Bluetooth devices so the audio function can link to Coachella’s app and broadcast music and other content, including updates about when an act is about to start and on which stage. They also support calls from a linked smartphone.

Bose refers to this capability as audio augmented reality (AR). Rather than using a visual depiction, audio AR allows users to feel connected to a different context through sound. Such an alternative approach to AR explicitly seeks to appeal to consumers who want to take a break from their screens or enjoy music even while interacting with actual surroundings or natural settings. For about $200, consumers could obtain the frames either online (where they remain available for sale) or from a tent set up at the festival.

Although Bose is a pioneer in the market, with a strong quality reputation to back up its offerings, it is not the only actor considering entry into the hearables market. Amazon reportedly is working to develop Alexa-linked earbuds. Apple’s AirPods already have achieved a strong position, though whether they represent true audio AR is debatable.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who (i.e., which consumer segments) are the early adopters of hearables? Who might constitute the majority? Laggards?
  2. Beyond music festivals, what channels might Bose use to introduce its smart sunglass frames to a wider audience?


Source: Robert Williams, “Bose Brings Audio AR Shades and Festival Content to Coachella,” Retail Dive, April 9, 2019