Harman Kardon, JBL Preparing For Coming-Out Party In Fall

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Northridge, Calif. - About 20 new

Harman Kardon



home audio products will launch in the fall with new industrial designs, advertising messages and packaging to reposition the brands following an extensive round of consumer research, Harman Consumer said.

The Infinity and AKG brands are currently undergoing a similar research regimen.

For the HK and JBL brands, the company researched consumers' perceptions of each brand, product features desired by consumers, and user experiences, said consumer and field marketing director Chris Dragon said.

Based on how consumers view the brands, Harman will develop a consistent message in the brands' advertising and packaging "to make it clear" and "be consistent in the way we tell the story," a corporate spokesman continued.

The research found that consumers view the Harman Kardon brand as a premium, sophisticated brand steeped in a long tradition of quality and appealing to aficionados in much the way that premium cigars and wines appeal to aficionados of those products, the spokesman said. The JBL brand, in contrast, is perceived as "bringing people together in social gatherings with professional sound," Dragon said.

Last year,

Harman Consumer executives told TWICE

that they would rebuild distribution, launch new products and marketing programs, and differentiate the home brands from one another more than they had been in the past.

In January, Harman Consumer announced it was dropping all two-step distribution for its JBL, Infinity and Harman Kardon home audio brands; JBL and Harman Kardon multimedia products; and AKG headphones to "create more targeted and powerful retail partnerships, support Harman's premium brand equity, and ensure a richer in-store consumer product experience," the company said at the time. The new business model would also provide retailers with "greater reliability and profitability going forward, as well as significantly increased interaction and planning with the Harman Consumer team," the company continued.

The group dropped "a considerable number of distributors," who largely sold to independent dealers and custom installers, as part of an effort to "take control of our distribution" and exert a greater degree of influence over how the Harman products are presented and sold, Dragon said at the time. Distribution of 12-volt products is unchanged.


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