What is special about Sennheiser products?

How Daniel and Andreas Sennheiser want to save the traditional company

How is Sennheiser celebrating its 75th birthday?

Daniel Sennheiser: We look to 2020 with very mixed feelings, because actually we were really looking forward to celebrating our anniversary with our employees, our customers, partners and friends. Then came the corona pandemic and presented us with challenges that we couldn't even imagine at the beginning of the year - both in our private and professional spheres.

Andreas Sennheiser: Our employees sent a strong signal to our customers: True to our anniversary motto "This Is Your Crew", they photographed themselves in the home office and showed: "We will continue and work on audio solutions for you, no matter where we are".

Daniel Sennheiser: Despite the difficult situation and the cancellation of planned events, we tell the stories of the people behind the Sennheiser products and the Sennheiser sound for our customers on our website. A total of 75 stories about 75 magical moments from the past and the present give an insight into the world of Sennheiser. They are stories from employees, customers, friends and fans that exemplify what defines us.

Are certain campaigns or events being rescheduled?

Andreas Sennheiser: No, because instead of the planned events we are implementing completely different formats: Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, we have been trying to support our customers by offering musicians and other professional users a platform on our social media channels. With the hashtags #DontStopTheMusic, #DontStopTheEducation or #AtHomeWithNeumann we have created new formats together. Some of these ideas will certainly live on after the Corona period, because we firmly assume that the current situation in the industry will result in long-term changes for the future.

Are there any anniversary offers specifically for specialist retailers?

Daniel Sennheiser: For the entire anniversary year, we are offering fans special birthday offers and special editions: For professional users there is a special deal every month for selected microphones, wireless systems and professional headphones. In addition, we will be launching various "75 Years" special editions of some of our most popular headphones by the end of the year, which will also be available from selected specialist retail partners.

How has the corona crisis affected the anniversary year so far?

Andreas Sennheiser: At first we felt the effects of the pandemic in China. Our office there had to be closed. Then we were faced with the task of maintaining our supply chains. Followed by the slump in sales in the consumer business due to the closure of stationary stores around the world. At the same time, the entire event industry practically came to a standstill with the cancellation of almost all live events. In doing so, we saw how the situation gradually gripped continent after continent. The effects of the pandemic have a massive impact on our business development this year - both in the consumer and in the pro area. And we expect the corona crisis to have a negative impact on our sales well into next year.

Daniel Sennheiser: We have to set up Sennheiser according to the changed framework conditions and new realities. This also includes making decisions that are difficult for us, but which are essential for the future of our company. The most difficult decisions are always those that affect our employees.

What changes to the corporate structure are planned?

Daniel Sennheiser: We are sticking to our core competencies and are continuing to strengthen the Professional and Consumer divisions. To do this, we will increase their independence and fully transfer operational responsibility to the two business areas. We are also adapting our business models in both areas.

Andreas Sennheiser: The planned changes affect all areas of our organization and result in jobs having to be cut. Overall, it is planned to reduce up to 650 jobs worldwide by the end of 2022. The reduction should be as socially acceptable as possible. Among other things, it is planned not to fill vacancies and, in addition to opportunities for partial retirement and early retirement, to offer a volunteer program and severance pay options. It is important to us to avoid redundancies for operational reasons as much as possible and to find individual solutions with our employees.

Daniel Sennheiser: In our 75-year history, we have seen difficult times several times. We always had to take on new perspectives, align ourselves with new requirements and transform the company in order to be able to cope with crisis situations successfully and emerge stronger from them. This is such a moment again.

What do you expect for 2020 as a whole?

Andreas Sennheiser: In the pro area, some of our customers are very strongly and also long-term affected by the effects of the corona pandemic. We assume that the concert and event industry will only slowly recover. The only exception to this development is the range of Neumann studio microphones, which is above our expectations.

Daniel Sennheiser: Since it was founded 75 years ago, Sennheiser has stood for excellent sound quality and exceptional audio experiences - and that is what we will continue to stand for in the future.

Andres and Daniel Sennheiser have been running the company together since 2013 (from left, source: Sennheiser)

How important is the B2B business for Sennheiser?

Andreas Sennheiser: Our B2B business is divided into pro audio and business communication. Together, these two areas account for more than half of sales and repeatedly demonstrate the innovative strength of Sennheiser, because our customers value the highest quality and innovative system solutions, which is what motivates us again and again.

At the end of the 80s, Sennheiser began to expand abroad. What role has the Swiss market played for the company so far?

Daniel Sennheiser: Switzerland has always been a small but very interesting market for us. Customers rely on quality and are very well informed. That fits in very well with our claim. As a company that has always relied heavily on innovation and quality, we find a very interesting target group in Switzerland.

And how does it look today?

Daniel Sennheiser: Especially today, when the range is becoming more and more extensive and a lot can be ordered online via international platforms, the specialist trade is very important - because advice is offered here. In Switzerland we have a great combination of high-quality specialist retailers and loyal customers who appreciate this offer.

You have been running the company together since 2013. How has the collaboration worked so far?

Andreas Sennheiser: Being together is a great advantage. This enables us to exchange ideas with one another and look at things from different perspectives. Regardless of whether it is a question of structural decisions, investment decisions or personnel decisions - we always have the opportunity to evaluate these from different perspectives and then make a decision together.

Daniel Sennheiser: It is important to us to communicate with our employees as openly and transparently as possible. Even if that means that we also have to ask ourselves critical questions. Nevertheless, we want all the steps we take to be understandable. Such intensive communication is of course particularly important in times of a pandemic. We are currently keeping our employees informed by video on a regular basis. This is our way of reaching them directly in the home office.

What is it like to work for a company with a long history in an industry that is changing so quickly?

Andreas Sennheiser: Customer applications have changed a lot and we have changed with them. In the beginning it was the stereo systems with cables, in the 80s listening to music with the Walkman became mobile - at that time this was only possible with the invention of the open headphones from Sennheiser. The second wave of mobility brought the iPods and smartphones. And now we have the third wave, in which everything is only connected to each other via Bluetooth and software plays a major role. You can currently see this in the boom in true wireless models.

Daniel Sennheiser: AMBEO is also a major milestone for us. This is not a product, but a 3-D audio technology program in which we have brought together many research projects in the areas of room acoustics, sound sources and formats, and the propagation of sound in a room. The goal is to experience sound as it does in reality. Sennheiser now has a whole product portfolio of recording devices, software, and playback devices such as the AMBEO soundbar, which we launched last year. In addition, together with Continental, we have presented a completely new solution for immersive listening pleasure in the car in the automotive sector.

Where do you see Sennheiser in ten years?

Andreas Sennheiser: In the future, a lot of the audio world will be about object-based formats. This means that we place audio objects virtually in the room and start less and less from prefabricated formats. Instead, we consider how the sound in the room adapts to the situation. This is relevant in the field of music, but also plays a role in other application areas such as virtual meetings. Working from home, many of us have noticed that it can be exhausting to hold virtual meetings and telephone conferences with up to 20 participants for several hours. A virtual placement of the various speakers in the room with the help of our Ambeo technology helps here.

Daniel Sennheiser: Such projects require openness to partnerships. We have always developed new solutions together with our customers, but also with partners from other industries, and we want to continue to do so in the future. We want to offer innovative solutions with which our customers can express their creativity in the best possible way. And we want to create unique listening experiences. Sennheiser remains "The Future of Audio".

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Personally

Andreas Sennheiser was born in Zurich in 1974. In 2004 he completed his doctorate on key figures and benchmarking in supply chain management at the ETH Zurich. Before moving to Sennheiser electronic in 2010, he worked for Hilti AG in Liechtenstein and later as technical manager at the Thuringia production plant in Austria. On July 1, 2013, Andreas Sennheiser was appointed CEO together with his brother Daniel Sennheiser, and both of them have assumed overall responsibility for the company.

Daniel Sennheiser was born in Zurich in 1973. Before moving to Sennheiser electronic in March 2008, he had worked for various communication agencies in Munich and Zurich, including as Associate Director of Design & Innovation EMEA for Procter & Gamble.

Since July 1, 2013, the two brothers, as CEOs, have been jointly driving the company's strategy of creating innovative audio products and impressive sound experiences for end users. (Source: Sennheiser)