Making Audio Work
Wexler at The Little Guys says his sales staff's focus on selling better product is "pretty balanced across the board. We're actually selling some two-channel stuff, and even some turntables to go with it. Maybe it had to do with the holiday season, and people digging out their old albums. Part of it is that we put three or four different ones on display around the store, and it reminded people subliminally that they have a whole bunch of records in the basement, put away. So, for somewhere between $200 and $500, they buy a turntable."
Two-channel audio, combined with a floor staff comprised of "passionate music-lovers," make the audio case at Home Theater Store, says Mody. "Our audio rooms," he says, "are set up for a two-channel experience instead of a home theater. We typically have eight or nine home theater vignettes around the stores, but we find it's best to sell high-end speakers in a two-channel room environment. There's a plasma display in the middle, but most of our salespeople prefer to have two-channel music playing in the audio rooms. And we typically don't switch between components. The rooms are nice and clean, and all you see is a limited collection of speakers, and they only have one set of amplification and processors needed to drive them. We have a switcher which is also hooked up with solid-core wiring, so there's no digital loss; it's an analog switching system - a really nice way of demo'ing true performance. If you have a commissioned floor, they figure out that with audio, there's
still lots of exclusivity left, and there are many speaker manufacturers, so that almost every retailer can have an exclusive line and run with it - unlike video."
Lee at Monster, for his part, favors touting the pluses of multi-channel at the salesfloor level from the audio-only point of view - a tactic he says is as logical a progression as that which occurred with video. "Audio needs to be a music experience. And two-channel audio is shrinking, but five-channel music has not taken a dip. Higher-resolution video evolved from lower-resolution video, but the same evolution has not happened in audio. It has gone from two-channel to the iPod - five-channel music has not taken its place. And a lot of customers listen to music a lot more than they watch movies. What happens to all the jazz lovers, all the classical music lovers, all the pop music lovers? They're ignored. Multi-channel audio has been completely unexploited."