NEW YORK — For Innovative Technology, there is power in nostalgia, and money in power.
The Long Island-based technology company is on a fast growth track in three niche categories: its Justin Power portable power line; Bluetooth accessories; and what CEO Corey Lieblein called “nostalgia electronics” — audio components with 21st century technology, like Bluetooth, in early- to mid-20th century designs.
Lieblein sat down with TWICE to talk about the accessories and audio markets.
TWICE:What’s trending in the portable power market?
There is an evolution to the portable-power-using consumer. When somebody buys a portable power bank, their first purchase is going to be an opening-price-point, 2,000 mAh power stick. And they’re going to take it home and their phone is going to be running low, and once they try their power stick they will say, “This is the best product ever!” Then a few days later their phone is running down again and they reach for their power stick and realize they forgot to recharge it. “I should buy another one just like this so I always have one charged.” And they do. They buy another opening-price-point stick and the cycle repeats. Eventually, we find that most consumers will work their way up the ladder. They’ll move on to a 6,000 mAh or so power bank, one that gives them three, four charges or more.
What we found is that our 5,200 mAh through 10,000 mAh packs sold very slowly in the first six months of the line being available. Then after six months the sales started rising noticeably without any extra marketing or advertising efforts. That’s the graduation cycle.
But we love when we see sales of the opening-price-point models because that just tells us we have a new portable power customer.
TWICE:So I have to ask, how is your turntable business?
Killing it! It’s the No. 1 category that’s driving our business. Our turntable business alone is up this year almost $30 million. We can’t keep them is stock. I wish we could make as many turntables as we make power banks ... but the turntables we sell, especially the large wooden music centers, are very labor intensive and we can only produce a certain amount per day.
I spent two years begging QVC to take one of our music centers and they finally gave in last year and put one in their Christmas in July event. They sold out their unit allotment, less than 1,000, in about 4.5 minutes. We got a significantly larger unit order to them for Christmas, and they blew through them too. This year the sky is the limit.
TWICE:So many of my friends with teenage kids tell me their kids are discovering vinyl records. I have to say, I never saw this trend coming. Clearly you did ...
I have to be completely honest, I didn’t see it coming like this. I started this category eight or nine years ago because I have an old soul. My office is full of antiques. I just like the look. I started this collection for gifts for people like my father — Baby Boomers who love this look. But what you said is true. I used to go to Best Buy and buy albums and my kids would buy downloads online. That has flopped. Obviously we have turntables in our house and my kids and their friends now all want their own turntables.
Everywhere we place these units, be it Walmart or wherever, people walk by and see these units and fall in love. Nostalgia is such a powerful emotion. We all remember the first record we bought, the first 45 we danced to with a girl to. So when you see this on the shelf of a store, a light bulb goes off. It’s pure emotion.