By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
I live outside of Philadelphia. On Thursday, the temperature hit 99-degrees and may have set a record. I’m not sure, and I really don’t care about records. I only know that it was hot, humid and the only release from the heat was an evening thunderstorm that threatened to destroy the canopy on my back-yard deck. (There was modest damage. It can be repaired. Thanks for asking.)
While my calendar says that we have a few weeks before it is officially summer, let’s be realistic. Summer is here.
A few years back, 30 years to be exact, I was an occasional guest on the CBS Morning News discussing the latest gadgets, products and other cool stuff that was coming to the market. The show wanted a ‘summer’ segment, and at the time, the latest, greatest, coolest thing was something called a camcorder. So, we took a VHS camcorder and some friends to the beach and shot some silly stuff like romping in the surf and building sandcastles. We made some simple edits and laid down a soundtrack using a James Taylor song, “Summer’s Here.
I can’t honestly remember what was on the videotape. I can recall the song.
“Summer’s here. I’m for that.
Got my rubber sandals. Got my straw hat.
Got my cold beer. I’m just glad that it’s here.
It’s my favorite time of the year,
And I’m glad that it’s here.”
We need some summer. We need a break.
Business will go on, news cycles will continue, problems will arise and they may or may not be resolved. But, by and large, we all slow down a bit come summer. (Try to find someone in their office after Noon on a Friday during the summer. You know who you are, and you know what I mean.)
We all slow down - because we can, and because we need to.
In the consumer electronics world, summer on a sales floor can and does feel parched. The customers are dwindling, save that last burst of effort called “Dads and Grads.” But, we are setting our sights (manufacturers, retailers, and salespeople) on the fall. At worst, we try to survive the summer. At best, we start planning for the next real selling season.
And we have a lot to think about as we start thinking about next fall. We have choices to make, we have trends to decipher, and we may want to spend a moment or two on the beach wondering if we really have any clue about what the next season will bring.
In the past year, we’ve seen TV margins (once the core of the CE business profitability) essentially vanish. We’ve watched - or participated in - a ‘democratization’ of the one-time, high-end technology selling opportunity as non-electronics box houses, discount retailers and the web have essentially reinvented the business while many weren’t looking.
Tablets and smartphones tease as being the next, best thing. Maybe they are. It will be a few months until we really know.
We have a few months to watch and wonder who and what will be in the game when the next season kicks off (with or without an NFL season). There are plenty of retail casualties of the past year, and others seemingly on life support. Will they be around when the customers get back from the beaches and the mountains?
As we try to take break in these summer months, we should probably keep an eye on our tablets and smartphones, and maybe check the office for messages late on a Friday afternoon. We can slow down, but we better not stop.
Call it change, call it transition, call it disaster, call it a sea change or a paradigm shift, or call it opportunity, the coming season will be unlike anything we have seen before - and some of us will win, others will wonder what happened.
Don’t worry -we have time. We have a few months.
We have our rubber sandals, we have our straw hats. We have cold beer. And, yes, we should be glad summer’s here. Take a breath, take a break. Take a moment, a day, a week or two to jump a wave in the ocean or find a tire swing or a waiting hammock when a cool breeze passes by.
My father was a school superintendent. His ‘summer’ wrapped up in the last week of July when, on the beach, he would begin to compose his welcome back letter to his faculty and staff. I fondly remember watching him take on the task, relaxed from his seasonal respite, but ready, willing and eager to welcome the next school year.
I learned a lot from my Dad. I learned that each season (in his case, a school year) brought new challenges and changes. I watched him reflect on the past, but always be more excited about the future rather than focusing on the past.
My Dad had rubber sandals. He had a straw hat.
Summer, was, I believe, his favorite time of the year.
Except for the rest of the year when he did what he truly loved.
Yes, summer’s here. I’m for that.
And later we might sing “Will I see you in September?” But that is a song/discussion for a later date - say mid-August?
John Rice is a writer, consultant, and occasional sales professional. Komedia Group provides marketing, training and informational services to companies in the electronics, automotive and pharmaceutical fields. He can be reached at 267-980-5919, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or atwww.komediagroup.com.
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