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Can Today’s Retailers Handle Step-Up Selling?

TWICE: Are enough storefronts capable of demonstrating step-up alternatives to expose consumers to the step-up alternatives, given the growth of big-box retailers and the flight by many A/V specialists out of retail into custom?

Eli Harary, Infinity: At some point, we have to address the fact that many big-box retailers have learned how to do the self-perpetuating demo. If you look at a Bose display in a big-box retailer, it doesn’t take many salespeople to sell that system off the display. It takes the push of a button.

If a retailer is really interested in audio, there is no reason he can’t make the move from an HTiB package to a better package that’s as simple as that Bose system, then add value by saying to the customer that we’ll take care of the details.

Franklin Karp, Harvey: Part of the problem is that, as an industry, we don’t do as good a job as other luxury industries. You can buy a $10 watch that keeps time as well as most of the watches I’ve noticed on the wrists of people here today. But we didn’t buy a $10 watch. We wanted something else because the watch says something.

In the automobile industry, there’s a passion about automobiles. And we [the audio industry] don’t do that. We’re not as passionate about what we sell, and yet the products we provide can give as much pleasure or more than any watch or car. It comes from our floors and from manufacturers themselves.

Kerry Moyer, CEA: Historically, the industry has always left money on the table. Even the best stores typically sell down. When consumers were upgrading to CD players in the mid and late 1980s, how difficult was it at that time to sell a $1,000 CD player when you already had $299, $399 CD players?

When I was in retail, salesmen would focus on a $500 model, and that’s what got sold all the time, even though within that product line, upgrade models were available. Everyone sold down to that model because in their minds they thought it was the best buy.

Karp: Walk into any luxury car showroom, and they’re going to put you in the most expensive car and let you say, “Well, that’s a bit much for me. Maybe it’s the next model down.” We don’t do enough of that.