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Harman Consumer Rolls Out Active Retail Displays

10/18/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern
NORTHRIDGE, CALIF. — Harman Consumer is rolling out active displays at retail for a variety of its brands to drive up sales, said Dave Rogers, VP/GM of Harman Consumer Americas.

Coinciding with the merchandising program, Harman has renewed trade and consumer advertising and stepped up promotion to consumers, including product placements on TV shows, he said.

The displays include floorstanding and shelftop versions for JBL- and Harman Kardonbranded iPod-docking speaker systems, the Quincy Jones series of AKG-branded headphones, and the JBL-branded MS-8 car audio amplifier/digital signal processor.

The Harman division also completed an active home theater display for Spokane, Wash.- based Huppins and plans to build a similar display for other dealers who want to improve their attachment rate of audio to video, Rogers said.

The Huppins display uses JBL speakers and a Harman Kardon AV receiver to demonstrate the difference between TV-speaker sound and home theater surround sound, he said. Consumers and salespeople press a button to turn on the surround system.

The rollout of the active displays follows the launch of Harman-branded areas within Nebraska Furniture Mart’s two stores earlier this year. The store-within-a-store areas incorporate products from multiple Harman brands and include Harman Kardon A/V receivers, an HK Blu-ray player, a prepackaged JBL 5.1 speaker system, JBL iPod/iPhonedocking speaker systems, an HK iPod-docking boombox and AKG headphones. The area, which Harman offers to customize for other retailers, is also set up for an active demo of surround sound.

For its JBL tabletop iPod speaker systems, Harman began in September to roll out shelf-top and floorstanding displays, each capable of holding one speaker system at a time. Dealers can add their own iPod or use a Harmanprovided source that plugs into a back-panel input to demonstrate music of many flavors. Different interchangeable panels let dealers customize the display for the particular models they stock.

A display for Harman Kardon’s Go & Play Micro iPoddocking boom box is in the works.

This month Harman began shipping active displays for its Quincy Jones series of AKG headphones. Each display holds three headphones. Two of the headphones – an on-ear model and an over-ear model – are connected to a source that plays music and a recording of Quincy Jones explaining why he uses AKG. A pair of in-ear headphones is not active.

Harman hopes to have 100 stores equipped with the headphone display for the Christmas season, with more to come after that, Rogers said.

In car audio merchandising, Harman in September shipped an active display to demonstrate the sound-quality impact of its $799-suggested MS-8 amplifier/ digital processor, which can be added to any aftermarket or OEM head unit to enhance performance, in large part by equalizing the audio signal to compensate for the undesirable impact of a particular car’s interior on sound quality.

The display doesn’t use a live MS-8 for practical reasons. Instead, it uses headphones and prerecorded content to demonstrate the difference in sound quality when switching DSP in and out.
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