By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Suppliers are taking steps to deliver next year's car audio product earlier in the year. Rather than shipping their 2003 product lines in April, when the key spring selling season begins, several suppliers aim to deliver product in January or February to smooth line transitions and to accommodate the fact that car stereo is becoming more of year-round business, according to several suppliers.
The trend started late last year, when both Sony and Pioneer shipped select high-volume CD receivers in November and December, far ahead of the typical schedule. For those suppliers, the goal was to avoid the problem of running out of inventory before the end of the year.
Pioneer marketing VP Michael Townsen said the strategy worked out well. This year Pioneer expects to ship three new models in the fourth quarter. "Some of our competitors last year were relatively late to market, so the combination of us being early and having a competitive product line really allowed us to build momentum early on in the first quarter." He said the strategy also helped because Pioneer product was in demo boards before the competition.
Alpine says it will ship some high-volume product earlier this year because consumers are starting to shop year-round, rather than waiting for the spring as in past years. Alpine will offer several models in February rather than late April, reports marketing VP Stephen Witt.
"In the past there wouldn't be demand until spring. Now it's a kind of chicken-and-egg situation. There is more demand and the retailers are also starting to promote a little earlier and therefore, consumers are interested earlier," he said.
Panasonic is aggressively pushing ahead its line release and planning to ship most of its '03 product line, including its new Sirius head units in January/February vs. April/May. "We want to be a 9- or 12- month supplier rather than a 6-month supplier," said Rob Lopez, Panasonic national marketing manager. "It can take anywhere from one to three months to get the product in the stores and in the displays and the salesmen comfortable with it. If you start shipping in April/May, it's the end of the season before the salespeople are comfortable with it. [This way] we can come out of the gate running."
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.