Selling the sound

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The sales of audio products are significantly lower that these of televisions. Stuart Hopwood told Anna Ryland how the industry is planning to address this situation and how retailers could benefit from the Listen to the Vision initiative.

According to GfK, by the end of 2010, the sales of televisions in the UK will amount to 10 million units, while the sales of home cinema products (including Blu-ray systems) are estimated to reach only 480 thousand units. This situation is a reflection of the fact that many customers in Britain do not realise how much they could improve the compressed sound received from flat TV panels by connecting a speaker or other audio product to their LED, LCD or Plasma television.

The Listen to the Vision initiative led by Stuart Hopwood, director and founder of Digital TV Info, aims to address this significant gap in the market, improve sales of audio products and give retailers another sales opportunity.

Stuart Hopwood believes that for this to happen two fundamental issues need to be addressed. A broad educational effort should be undertaken to inform customers and demonstrate to them how audio products could enhance their enjoyment of television programmes, especially those where audio plays a significant part. Secondly, retailers should learn how to add audio products to a sale of a television set without fear of losing the sale all together.

“We cannot relay on the industry’s advertising as it doesn’t tell people what’s available and what matches their needs. Currently there are too many confusing messages in the marketplace,” says Stuart.

At the same time “many audio manufacturers, who every year bring out excellent products for the general public, not for the niche hi-fi audio enthusiasts, are very concerned with the current situation. They are happy to take part in the Listen to the Vision project.” Industry associations such as BADA, retra and CEDIA have also declared their support for the initiative.

The project will be run in conjunction with a number of major national outdoor events, such as racing or air shows, during which the participants will be able to take part in audio visual presentations demonstrating the full capability of HD sound. However, “this is not going to take a form of an exhibition where manufacturers are trying to outdo each other. The project aims to create the awareness of what the industry has to offer.” The demonstrations will take place in large mobile ‘pods’ which will be transferred between venues. The organisers also plan to publish a comprehensive reference guide for consumers clarifying the main areas of confusion and listing the sources of relevant information and advice. The project will be supported by the websites: www. listentothevision.com and listentothevision.co.uk and a variety of marketing communications.

The first event is due to take place on 1 May 2011.

The launch of the initiative is expected before Christmas, once the specifications of the demonstration facility – the ‘pods’ – are ready.

“The initiative aims to create a greater market for audio products while educating consumers and bringing them to retailers’ stores. It’s then up to retailers to convert this opportunity into sales,” explains Stuart.

He also believes that “this is not the case of selling what customer wants but selling what customer needs. It is a retailers role to tell consumers how they can benefit from adding audio products­ to their televisions. The initiative will give retailers an opportunity to convert a TV sale into a TV and audio sale.”

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