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Despite a tough economy, or maybe because of the tough economy, sales in auto security systems are up, forming one of the few bright spots in the 12-volt market this year, according to industry members.
DEI is reporting double-digit gains, and Audiovox says sales are up 18 percent. Bulldog Security/JBS Technologies says sales are up 10 percent to 12 percent.
Driving the increases is the first innovation in the security market in years — the two-way system, which sends back a signal to the user confirming commands and alerts him in the case of a break in. The feature adds approximately $100 to $150 to the cost of the security system and is causing an increase in average selling prices for the category.
"What the security market suffered from was a malaise in the market. There was nothing much different except a different color transmitter. It's put some pizzazz back in the market," said Tom Malone, senior VP of Audiovox's mobile electronics group.
"Security is one of the growing categories we've had this year, which has been a surprise," said Dan Jeancola, mobile electronics senior VP for Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, Canton, Mass. "Customers really dig the two-way product. They can remote-start the car and see that puff of smoke on the LCD and know it's started. Or they've had a break in, and they want to know what it is."
Some retailers said the economy is the reason for the uptick in security sales as people tend to want to protect their investments when times get tough. "We've seen about twice as many cases of customers coming in because of stolen cars or cars that were broken into than in past years," noted Matt Imbriglio, co-owner of Long Radio, West Springfield, Mass.
Others said it's the feature advantage in two-way transceivers. Audio Express says the average selling price for security is up over 22 percent because of two-way systems. A strong seller is a Viper unit at $399 (without remote start), he said.
Many said two-way systems easily demonstrate a benefit over factory keyless entry systems. "Most customers are confused about keyless entry that comes with a vehicle and think they have a security system — even though it's only a limited system," said Steve Hadaad, president of Music Systems, El Paso, Texas. "Two-way systems show a clear advantage and they also have that toy factor with this cute little LCD with pictures on it."
DEI will ship its first two-way Responder standalone remote start units this fall. They offer 66-bit encryption for immunity to illegal code grabbers, the company said. Models include the Viper 591VX and Python 581XP at $529.99 suggested retail price, as well as a Clifford model with door lock relay assembly at $549.99.
Crimestopper is shipping a two-way SecureCar security system without remote start at the end of the month. Model CS2004TW1 uses LEDs, beeping tones and icons as indicators (instead of LCD) to reduce the price. The unit comes with a two-way transceiver plus a one-way remote at an estimated price of $299.95.
Bulldog Security is launching a new Magnum line aimed at 12-volt installers in September. It will include a Gold system combination security/remote start (one-way), which uses icons and blue LED indicators. It comes with two four-button remotes, 11 onboard relays and a backup battery at an estimated street price of $399.
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.