Who Gets It -- Multimedia Salesmanship
Rockford Fosgate Lets the Internet Do the Dirty Work
By Natalie Hope McDonald
In this world of ever-increasing product complexity, the CE manufacturing community has found itself in a bit of a quandary. For every advancement in technological prowess comes a corresponding learning curve for the consumer. It's now been a quarter of a century since households learned to live with the flashing "12:00" on their VCRs. And in comparison to today's sophisticated digital products, which often include wireless protocols, new file formats and, in many cases, new technologies altogether, the VCR seems as simple as pen and paper.
Over the years, manufacturers have grappled with this problem in a variety of ways. Some have relied on rep training, sending experts into the field to conduct product training for retailers. Others have used their own Web sites to provide comprehensive explanations, white papers and product overviews. But for all this effort invested in consumer education, it's typically still up to the retailer to be able to convey the operation and benefits of sophisticated consumer electronics products.
That's another quandary. Sean Wargo and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently reported in Dealerscope magazine that only 15 percent of consumers trust retailers. Yet 59 percent of these same consumers admitted that they needed someone to tell them where to find products of interest. Using a similar theory, one company has decided to bypass traditional sales altogether and go straight for the Web to do just that. Rockford Fosgate, a division of Rockford Corporation, designs and manufactures high-end autosound equipment. The Tempe, Arizona-based company is the largest maker of after-market mobile audio sound products, with lines including RFX, PUNCH, POWER, CONNECTING PUNCH, SYMMETRY and FANATIC. It's also among the first in the business to jump ahead of distribution to take a "Blair Witch" approach to marketing. That is, the company has set up a Web site, www.omnifimedia.com, that demos a product called Omnifi which hasn't even hit the market yet.