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Sennheiser: Audio still booming despite Europe's age of austerity

By Oliver Joy
updated 4:22 AM EDT, Thu September 27, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sennheiser is famed for designing bespoke audio equipment for the music industry
  • It is focused on quality -- and sells products including Swarovski crystal-encrusted headphones
  • Sennheiser's chief executive doesn't expect Greece to exit the euro -- but the company has a "war chest" to buffer the risk

(CNN) -- Europe might be in an age of austerity but demand remains for luxury products -- including Swarovski crystal-encrusted headphones.

Jorg Sennheiser, chief executive of family-run audio giant Sennheiser, told CNN consumers remain willing to pay a premium for such hi-tech finery, despite Europe's financial crisis.

"If our customers wants Swarovski crystals on it they can have it, they can have it on the microphones or headphones," he said.

The drive for "individualization of the product" is unbroken, Sennheiser added. "People are willing to pay extra to have a very special, unique product of their own."

Sennheiser, based in the district of Wedemark, Germany, is famed for designing bespoke audio equipment for the music industry, and caters for high-profile stars including British DJ Fatboy Slim and indie-rock band Florence + The Machine.

The buoyancy of luxury goods comes even as companies such as Sennheiser are forced to prepare for a worst-case outcome of the euro crisis.

Sennheiser said he doesn't expect Greece to exit the euro -- but despite that, the company has established a "war chest" to buffer against a possible break-up of the 17-country currency bloc.

While many luxury brands are eyeing emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia, Sennheiser says developed markets still offer opportunities for growth. "If money is scarce, people have a tendency to concentrate on high quality products... so we enjoy rather good business," he said.

Sennheiser will remain focused on quality over quantity, snubbing the temptation to churn out "cheap plastic junk" in attempt to drive mass markets, the chief executive said.

"If [consumers] want to buy a cheap product, after a certain period, a month or so, you have to throw it away, so you have to throw your money away," Sennheiser added.

CNN's Oliver Joy contributed to this report

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