Making Audio Work
Opportunities are wide open for the custom retailer who can peer beyond flat-panel's pixels
By Nancy Klosek
It isn't video. It's audio.
And it isn't easy.
In fact, it takes a village—C-tailing business owners, manufacturers, salespeople—to make the case for a high-ticket audio purchase.
Suppliers and C-tailers who get it know that conducting a good demonstration is only the culmination of the presentation process. The development of cannily designed product lines on the manufacturing side and, on the retail side, an unvarnished self-examination of the dynamics which influence audio purchases are the requisite preludes to a sale, say industry participants from each camp who are most successful at the audio game. All agree the investment is worth the time—and the payoff in profit.
Flat Panels and Audio
Opinion on how the flat-panel sales phenomenon has affected audio sales varies widely. "With flat-panel prices down, margins dropped and more competition, there's definitely some gloom in the video business," observes Bob Brown, president of Lenbrook America. "'Flat panel' is a good name for it - because it's two-dimensional. It's satisfying, to an extent, when you first see it. What's there to dislike? It's Mom, and apple pie. But audio is the third dimension of home theater. What separates a store like Harvey from a Best Buy or a Circuit City? Emotional involvement with the customer. That simply can't be brought to bear in a superstore. If a customer is exposed to the powers of a flat-panel TV through audio, then it becomes a whole different level of involvement. A lot of people are buying 'jewelry' when they buy a flat panel - they're getting rid of their old 300-pound TVs that are four feet deep. But once you've done that, what's next? If somebody puts a high-quality
audio system behind that, it takes the TV and expands it. TVs become bigger, when you add audio."