Slimming Down, Smartening Up
Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this series ran in our December 2008 issue, and Part 2 ran in the January 2009 issue. Both articles also can be found at www.customretailer.net.
You can avoid opening your 401k statement envelopes or quickly change the channel when Bloomberg pundits get doom-and-gloomy again, but tell-tale signs of recession are even sneaking into places once thought of as upbeat and insulated—places like the Web sites of premium A/V product manufacturers.
Before September ‘08, the Paradigm Electronics marketing department was trumpeting a No. 1 performance ranking in banner-ad messages, proclaiming, “We make the best subwoofer in the world.” A month later, the pitch had changed to, “We make the best-performing subwoofer for your dollar.”
“We’re stressing value now instead of the product itself,” says Jack Shafton, Paradigm’s director of sales and marketing.
eSommelier, the five-year-old “wine management solution” hardware/software company that targets a luxury-market clientele, responded to economic headlines by holding a Webinar for installers titled, “Selling High Value Products in a Down Economy.” And Runco International, a brand synonymous with projection systems that cost as much as Jaguars, began pushing a “trade-in” program, offering dealers a substantial credit when they sell a new product.
“The biggest crisis is confidence and widespread fear,” says Bob Hana Runco’s VP of sales and marketing. “Half of this is in our heads. Quit watching the news is my advice.”
It’s tough advice to follow these days, when headlines scream of significant layoffs, even in the tech sector. During one especially bleak week in late January, for instance, Microsoft cut 5,000 jobs, Sony another 5,000 and Sprint Nextel, 8,000—all while Circuit City was going into liquidation and even Best Buy was offering voluntary severance packages to 4,000 of its corporate staff. It’s just a lot of zeros to take in with equanimity.