Q&A With Newly Appointed President of Soundcast, Charity Hardwick
Soundcast LLC, makers of wireless audio products, announced the appointment of Charity Hardwick as the company’s new President. Hardwick is a 2017 honoree in Dealerscope's Powerful Women in Consumer Technology program.
A three-year veteran of the company, Hardwick joined Soundcast in 2015 as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, a role she’s since held. In her relatively short time at Soundcast, Hardwick is credited for helping lead and execute many of the company’s strategy shifts, including a go-to-market realignment, sales channel and new product development, and a refreshed branding strategy.
Here is a quick interview, catching up with all things Soundcast as they transition with their new president.
What is your vision for the Soundcast brand – and how does that gel with its current perception by consumers in the marketplace? How does your vision for the future of the brand dovetail with the following you’ve already developed, and how are you planning on expanding that following?
Charity Hardwick: When Soundcast came to market years ago, it was more organic, and sales were achieved through distribution, with word-of-mouth being the real driver for growth. Today, our focus is to drive marketing and consumer level awareness of this technology in channels that make sense for the consumers who adopt our product. Studying the market carefully, we’ve chosen a mixed retail and CI strategy that makes sense for us. My goal is to capture a lion’s share of the rugged outdoor portable market through strong partnering and compelling consumer-level marketing, utilizing platforms of social media, guerilla-style consumer events, compelling point-of-purchase, and social and lifestyle influencer alignments. Consumers who had an opportunity to own Soundcast in the past often used words like “love” to describe our product – and the same is true with the new line. We’re simply creating a platform to reach more customers and share the “love.”
Can you provide our readers with a recap of how far the Soundcast brand has come in the last couple of years in terms of expanded distribution and market development? What are your strategies, going forward for both the short and long terms?
Hardwick: The Soundcast brand – and the company, for that matter – has been reborn. We are completely dialed in on consumer adoption patterns and channel purchase preferences. We are building a strong base of AV-CI dealers, CE retailers, and specialty retail partners; both here in the U.S. and abroad. A core segment of consumers is both intrigued and excited about the idea of a Power Portable that delivers incredible power and bass and weighs 11 pounds. The VG5 and VG7 products are literally beyond their comprehension. We’re arming our retailers and dealers with tier-one demo displays and customized content loops. When consumers flock into retail stores or dealer showrooms and demo our products, they will be blown away by the sound.
Are you planning on expanding the currently targeted demographics, and if so, at what types of customers are you aiming to broaden your reach to encompass?
Hardwick: Yes. The Power Portables – VG5, VG10, VG7 – will be focused on a very specific demographic. However, the smaller models, due to their lower price points and smaller size/portability, appeal to a much broader swath of consumers. The critical common traits for both segments are a) music-lovers who demand great sound quality and b) people who love the outdoors and outdoor activities. During our competitive analysis of the $149-$199 micro-portable categories, we were stunned by the number of mediocre-to-bad-sounding products out there. This was the key driver in developing the VG1 and VG3. What if a real music-lover is out hiking, golfing, boating, camping, or at the beach? They have to sacrifice their music for the environment. So we developed robust mini portables specifically for the discerning individual, independent of age or income level.
Hardwick: The new product line represents a quantum leap forward in terms of portability, technology, and sound quality. Don’t get me wrong; the OutCast and OutCast Jr., in their era, were unique and formidable products. We took the original value proposition – Weatherproof Power Portable Speaker systems that deliver incredible bass and loud clear sound – and perfected it to the nth degree. The new models, VG5, VG10 and VG7, blow the old legacy line right out of the water – with tighter bass, far superior midrange and high-frequency definition and clarity. They are smaller, lighter, and have beautiful cosmetics that allow these speakers to migrate indoors. All of the VGx models, even the smaller mini portables, the VG1 and VG3, deliver crystal-clear sound, with absolutely no distortion at any volume level. We employ multiple EQs and crossovers to maintain (more or less) the same smooth response curve at any volume level. Our goal is to deliver perfect, studio-quality sound on every model, and only when we hit a hard wall in terms of constraints in price point, size, and battery/playtime limits do we even think about making compromises in drivers and components. Of course, all Soundcast models feature the most advanced Bluetooth technology, aptX, and AAC, that allows a high-resolution audio enthusiast to stream audiophile tracks without shaving bits and adding compression. Even our Bluetooth transmitter, the VGtx, can stream high-resolution (CD-quality) Bluetooth from any audio device over 150 ft. to any with aptX-featured BT device, with no discernible latency.
At what shows are you planning to exhibit – and what will you show there?
Hardwick: We will exhibit on the floor at CEDIA this year. We will showcase the new VGx line, and perhaps a few other treats. One should also expect to see Soundcast at key international trade shows over the next 18 months.
Are there any other comments you’d like to provide relating to Soundcast and your new role there?
Hardwick: At the end of the day, I’m here to support a team of highly skilled experts in their field. I remind the staff here that we’re actually an entertainment company. Our job is to create the best products we can to support fun and special moments for everyone. We had a customer stop by recently with a speaker that had been literally everywhere – helicopters, Iraq, backyards, pool parties, sandstorms and more. Our speakers are part of people’s lives – providing the soundtrack to their moments. They become part of the family, and I’m honored to be its matriarch.