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Harman Performance Group Steps Up Marketing Efforts

Elkhart, Ind. — The Harman performance A/V group (HPAV), which markets Harman’s high-end home audio brands, is stepping up its advertising and promotion efforts as part of a revamped marketing and distribution strategy,

Group marketing VP Marc Kellom told TWICE that the his group was formed about seven months ago to consolidate sales and marketing of high-end audio brands Lexicon, Revel, and Mark Levinson. HPAV also took over responsibility for the high-end JBL Synthesis brand and for JBL speakers priced at about more than $3,000/pair. JBL Synthesis and more expensive JBL speakers were marketed previously by Harman Consumer, which continues to market JBL speakers priced under $3,000/pair, Infinity speakers, Harman Kardon electronics, and aftermarket car audio amps and speakers.

With the consolidation, Kellom assumed responsibility for marketing all HPAV brands. John Batliner took over sales responsibilities as sales VP, and Mark Graham, president of Harman’s Crown pro-audio brand, added the title of HPAV president.

Together, they and other HPAV members executed a new distribution strategy that offers incentives to dealers of one brand to carry all HPAV brands. In the past, few dealers who carried one HPAV brand carried another, Kellom said. Now, because of sales-incentive programs and a new demo program, “We are very close to having all U.S. dealers offering all brands,” Kellom said.

About 450 dealers sell HPAV products, down about 10-15 percent since the group’s restructuring.

HPAV’s distribution strategy emulates a strategy pursued by Harman’s pro audio brands, Kellom noted. “It’s very powerful to have everyone aligned with all our brands,” he explained. Now, a single dealer can offer a complete home theater audio or stereo-music solution built from HPAV-brand components, he explained. Revel, for example, offers in-room and custom speakers; Levinson offers amplifiers, preamp/processors, and a CD/SACD player; and Lexicon offers preamp processors and a planned Blu-ray player, which will also play DVD-Audio discs, SACDs, and CDs. The JBL brand offers speakers, and JBL Synthesis offers a complete turnkey package of home-theater speakers and electronics.

Although it was a challenge to get dealers to bring in new brands in sour economic times, the group pulled it off through its incentive and demo programs, Kellom said.

Dealers were also attracted to the group’s stepped-up advertising, promotion and dealer-support plans, he said. They include a significant boost in consumer advertising, a greater focus on advertising in luxury-oriented media, and a 53-foot tractor trailer with expandable sides to provide 1,000 square feet of demo space featuring working systems. The truck will support dealer promotional events and double as a rolling training tool that the group will take to dealers to train their sales staffs.

To advertise to audiophiles, the group will spend the same or more money as it has in the past but will expand to advertising in online audiophile sites, Kellom said. For the first time, he added, the brands will invest in a significant amount of advertising in luxury magazines to reach very affluent consumers who simply want the best.