The 600-Pound Gorilla
Can Furniture Be Monsterized?
By Marshall Lager
Monster Cable is arguably the most compelling success story of the CE industry. Few companies, regardless of size, goods or approach, have been able to satisfy dealers and consumers the way Monster has for 30 years. As a result of the company's ambitious dealer programs, canny marketing strategies and extensive product mix (not to mention margins), Monster has developed an intensely loyal dealer base at all levels of the industry, from mass to specialty. Possibly more than anyone else in the industry, Monster makes money for its dealers. Naturally, this earns the company a lot of love.
This being the case, one might think Monster would just keep on doing what it's been doing—wiring up the CE world. But over the past several years, the company has broadened its focus. Recently, the company announced a line of home theater furniture and audio gear that puts Monster in a whole new context. Until now, furniture has been a mixed bag for many C-tailers—a good sale perhaps, but only when you can make one. And no one brand has achieved the kind of category dominance that Monster boasts for many of its product lines. As for the audio components, Monster will now be swimming in some very crowded waters. How does the company plan to succeed?
HIT ME, BABY
"One of the strange things about home theater today," says Head Monster Noel Lee, "is the lack of emphasis on high-quality audio as a component of the whole experience." Anybody with an eye on the industry can see what Lee's getting at—once the budget's been allocated to that sleek new plasma HDTV, few consumers are driven to make sound a priority. "Retailers asked us about increasing audio sales in relation to video," he continues, "so we sat down and considered why it needed to be done. It turns out that nobody really demonstrates audio as part of video and HT anymore—surround sound was the cool thing when nobody had it back in the late 1990s, but the emphasis has shifted away from that since."