By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
As the car audio selling season kicks into gear, suppliers are launching new spring promotions. Some manufacturers are expanding promotional budgets, some are boosting grassroots efforts and others are experimenting with new programs.
This year Pioneer will sponsor its first concert tour series; JVC is offering a new consumer purchase incentive program and Sony is offering dealer gift certificates to customers who purchase full systems.
Some suppliers, including Clarion and Alpine, are beefing up training for salespeople and installers as autosound lines grow increasingly complex, particularly with the addition of mobile video.
Here are some of the 2001 promotions:
Pioneer is expanding its CART sponsorship, now in its third year and adding, for 2001, sponsorship of a concert tour.
Pioneer is backing two CART drivers: 676Walker Racing driver Tora Takagi from Japan and Italy's Alex Zanardi of Mo Nunn Racing. The company is stepping up its presence at CART races, primarily by sponsoring a concert tour for the first time. Concerts will be held after five races this year; the first of which kicked off in April at the Long Beach, Calif., Toyota Grand Prix with Third Eye Blind headlining.
JVC is marketing direct to the consumer with an incentive-points program that runs from May through September. Joining with other divisions that share car audio's demographics, the program offers points with the purchase of car audio (and other products) which can be redeemed for popular Gen X items such as BMX bikes, Dragon Sunglasses, Palmer snowboards and clothing. Consumers can also save up points and redeem them for larger items including JVC video cameras and TVs.
Sony is promoting its Xplod line this year with a program called Xtreme Power, Xtreme Rewards. The program is designed to encourage consumers to buy full Xplod systems. Running from April 1 through Sept. 30, if a customer buys an Xplod head unit, speakers and amplifier he receives a gift certificate to the store where he made the purchase for $75. Purchasers may buy one component and return months later to purchase the remaining system components provided the full system is purchased by Sept. 30, Sony said.
Instead of running its typical spring promotion, Clarion sent out in March a team of seven product trainers to 250 dealers and trained approximately 1200 salesmen and installers, said director of marketing Michael Townsen. "As you know, there's a lot of turnover at retail; we get a lot of new people and we felt it was important to not only retrain the veterans but train the rookies."
A similar tour is scheduled for June to promote Clarion's new version of the AutoPC, now with DVD, called the Joyride. The company also sponsored an exhibit at the Toyota Grand Prix in Long Beach, Calif., April 6 to 8, with five demo vehicles to preview the Joyride that ships in May.
Panasonic is sponsoring its annual incentive contest for retail floor salesmen. Contestants receive points for Panasonic products sold, redeemable for Panasonic car audio, car video, home audio, portable and video products. The contest runs from May 1 through August 31. Alpine, which hosts a regional dealer tour each spring, said that it is sharpening its focus on the sales floor with new point-of-purchase materials to explain its increasingly complex line of products. The POP materials include two customer profile sheets, each with 12 questions to qualify the customer, one for car audio and one for car video.
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