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Success Story: Bose 321 GS Series II HTiB

Convenience of set up and speaker placement, retailer advertising and shelf share — not a low price — were among the key factors driving the Bose 321 Gemstone Series II home theater in a box (HTiB) system to the top of NPD’s unit-sales charts for the 12 months ending in May.

Starting out at $999 in its lifecycle, the DVD-equipped 321 system outsold multiple lower-priced systems among NPD’s top 10 unit-share leaders, including the second-best selling system at only about $269. The key differentiating feature of the Bose 321 GS II system was a proprietary technology that simulates 5.1-channel surround sound from a pair of tiny 2.5-inch by 5.5-inch by 4.1-inch speakers and a separate bass module.

Eliminating the setup and placement of multiple speakers was a strong enough incentive for consumer to buy the system even though other top 10 systems offered features that the 321 system lacked. Those features included five-disc changers in many models; wireless surround speakers in the fourth- and fifth-ranked Panasonic systems; and, in select other models, HDMI outputs, high-definition up-scaling and iPod docking capability. (The third-generation Bose 321 GS system adds 1080p-up-scaling HDMI output.)

The 321 system’s visibility also played a role, statistics from IFR Monitoring and Analysis show. IFR found the 321 system accounted for 3 percent of all HTiBs on display in a representative sample of stores during the 12-month period. That compares to 1 percent for the next-best-selling SKU, Sony’s DAV-HDX-265. Only the No. 4-selling Panasonic SCPT-750, sold with wireless surround speakers at $388, was as visible as the Bose.

The 321 system was also heavily advertised by retailers, IFR found, although not as heavily as some of the top 10 sellers. The 321 system accounted for 4 percent of the HTiBs advertised by retailers during the 12-month period. Only the No. 2-Sony model and Panasonic SCPT-750 were advertised more often, accounting for 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, of the HTiBs advertised.

Top 10 HTiBs

Unit volume share at retail

June 2007 – May 2008