By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Rockford Corp. plans to reinvigorate its core Rockford Fosgate mobile electronics brand by refocusing on its heritage of loud music and ultra-bass and encouraging reps and dealers to demo the brand's attributes to consumers.
"This year, Rockford Fosgate is going back into the fields and bringing back the music," said managing director Ron Trout, a Rockford Fosgate veteran who returned to the brand in 2003 after a 3-year absence. "We stopped taking people by the hand to bring them into the car to listen to music."
The aftermarket's focus on expensive mobile-video systems, combined with competition from the growing performance-parts market, has "shifted dollars" away from car audio, contributing to the aftermarket's doldrums, Trout said. "As an industry, we get too caught up with what's new, but every year, a new group of 16-year-old drivers enters the market, and they all drive and listen to music. The industry needs to get back to showing them what kind of music they can get in their car.
"Kids want to listen to music loud," he continued. "Let's not forget that."
Parent Rockford Corp. "will put more of a corporate focus this year on Rockford Fosgate," which accounts for 60 percent of company volume, said Trout. The focus follows the acquisition and digestion of multiple brands since Rockford went public in 1999. The acquired companies included car-audio supplier Lightning Audio, home/car audio supplier MB Quart, car-audio-enclosure maker Q Logic, and most recently, home-audio supplier NHT. Rockford also launched the OmniFi home/car brand and purchased rights to the Fosgate Audionics home audio brand, which it relaunched.
In the first phase of its back-to-basics approach, Rockford Fosgate launched more than 100 new autosound products at CES, all designed from the ground up to replace a line that hadn't changed much since 1995, Trout said.
During the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) Knowledgefest in March, Rockford Fosgate will announce programs that will further incentivize dealers to show and demo music systems, he said. Rockford Fosgate car audio, he noted, "is doing extremely well in the Best Buy car audio department because they push car audio."
Rockford Fosgate customers want loud, high-power-handling products that don't break, Trout said. "In recent years," he added, "we marketed bass less. Reps were not marketing it, and we were not out demonstrating it on weekends."
Now, the company "wants factory people out there" as well as its independent reps. "We had a rep council last December and told them to go out there on weekends with demo vehicles [at events and stores, including performance-parts stores]."
New products from the company include Power line amplifiers with 1-ohm stable outputs and bass equalizers with variable center frequencies. The Power amps also have a segregated power supply and amplifier topography for low noise and a military spec power supply. Models range from the T5002 (75 watts x 2 at 4 ohms) at an estimated price of $399.99 to the T30001bd (1,000 watts x 1) with remote bass eq at $1,799.99.
New Punch amplifier models range from the P2002 (50 watts x 2 at 4 ohms) at an estimated street price of $199 to the P6001 (300 watts x 1) at $499. New features in the Punch series include a TOPAZ input stage, a remote bass eq and 2-ohm stable output stage.
Rockford also entered the in-dash mobile video market with the RAV DVD2 — a single DIN in-dash DVD with 7-inch motorized LCD, TV tuner, MP3, Dolby Pro Logic and Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital, DTS and AC3 processing and 50 watt by 5 amplifier. The unit will have an estimated price of $1,599.99.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.