Car sound; to get your share of car sound systems sales after all components, installation
The sound of music can be the sound of cash registers ringing for retailers who stock car sound systems. People are so used to hearing excellent fidelity in their homes that they won't put up with the often impure sound found in cheaper OE radios. "If present trends continue," says James S. Twerdahl, president of the Custom Automotive Sound Association (CASA), "40% of all U.S. cars will have AM/FM stereos and cassettes by 1986." Twerdahl also point out that, "the number of U.S. households owning AM/FM stereos with cassettes rose from 12.2% in 1980 to 21.2% in 1982."
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Obviously consumers want good sound, and they'll pay for it. "We see there being $2 billion worth of business in car sound in 1984," says James Minarik, of Sparkomatic Corp., Milford, PA. Radios Sell First
So there's big money in car sound. And the first thing people spend it on is a new radio, according to Tracy H. Rushing, Tracy's Home & Auto, Jonesboro, LA. "Usually people come in and want a radio to replace the one they got in the car when they bought it," he says. "They say they'll go with the speakers they already have. Often the speakers fail as a result, and they come back for new speakers, too. So, we eventually do sell both."
Generally, there has been much emphasis in selling car sound in the overall audio industry directed towards selling expensive radios/cassette units. Experts cite musicians who have put $10,000 and $15,000 stereos in their cars. They even tell the tale of one person who put a $3,500 system in a $3,000 car.
But it isn't just the fanatics for pure audio who install expensive equipment. In fact, Minarik reports that Sparkomatic's best seller in 1983 just happened to be the most expensive radio they produced. This year Sparkomatic has introduced an even more expensive model, with even more features.
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However, Jack Kujawa, buyer with Parts City, Inc., Atlanta 5A, says that in his experience there's little difference in sales between the most expensive radios and the cheaper models. "We sell almost as many of the higher priced units as the lower priced ones. This is even though we only promote the lower end, and I really don't know why. And the lower end units sell best when put on sale, while the higher priced ones sell consistently. All in all, there's probably no more than a 10% difference in sales between the higher and lower priced models." First Time Buyers
So it's obvious that there is a real market for the less expensive models as well as top of the line units. Some of the features previously found only in expensive models are now available on cheaper ones as well--something that has encourged this market. To tap it, Kraco, Compton, CA, has recently come out with a package that includes a car stereo cassette player with matched speakers for just such a buyer. "While the trend towards higher-end car stereo is well established," Larry Kraines, Kraco's president, says, "the increasing interest of first-time car stereo customers in pre-packaged autosound systems is ringing up big sales for many retailers."
Retailers who have stocked the product agree. "We especially like it because it is a self-merchandiser, and we see this as a product that should be successful for quite a time," says Jin DeFrancesco, Checker Auto Parts, Phoenix, AZ. "It is particularly attractive to first-time car stereo customers in the 16-25 year-old range because of price and simplicity of installation. They're usually buying a car stereo package for an older car and they don't have a lot of money to invest. More often than not, they return for a step-up model when they have a newer car." Related Sales Follow
Any Howe, OTASCO, Tulsa, OK, is another retailer who finds the product a good one. "The unit helps to build the customer into a return purchaser and a second sale is usually generated within 90 days," he says. "Often he returns for a second pair of speakers or related for a second pair of speakers or related accessories such as graphic equalizers, tape cleaning kits, cassette storage cases and the like."
But for those who can't afford even a new radio, there is still a way to get better sound while driving. The best way to improve car sound, even from an OE radio, according to Minarik of Sparkomatic which makes both radios and speakers, as well as being the cheapest way, is through installing new speakers. That's something a retailer can explain in his advertising and in-store promotional material. There is less consumer concern about speakers, less reason to hold off buying new ones, too, as they haven't gone through as many recent radical changes as have radios and cassette players.
Moreover, selling speakers can be better for the bottom line. According to Minarik, overall sales costs in car sound are 60% while profits are 40%. In speakers, however, it's just the reverse, with 40% sales costs and 60% profits. "The reason for this is that head units--the cassette players and radios--are price sensitive because of advertising. You always see them listed in ads by all sorts of stores. Speakers, however, are less advertised and therefore less price sensitive. Speakers are a major profit marker," he says. Don't forget antennas
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Once the basic components of a sound system--the casette player or radio and speakers--are sold, many retailers assume the sale is finished. But it need not be. "A lot of people are missing a good chunk of money by not asking customers buying a car radio to buy a good antenna with it," says Clark Yamazaki, the vice president and marketing manager of Harada Industry of America, Compton, CA, an antenna manufacturer. In fact, he says, such a recommendation is just about the only way to sell antennas consistently.
"Antennas are just not promotional items," he says. "They aren't expensive enough to begin with to sell through special prices alone. The best way to really sell them is through a salesman's recommendation.
"Young guys drive sporty cars like Camaros or Firebirds that don't come equipped with power antennas. They put in an expensive sound system," Yamazaki says, "but too often salesmen don't think to sell them a power antenna to go with the system." In addition he points out, "you need a good antenna to get a decent signal. And a great system tht receives a poor signal isn't worth what it cost."