A "New" Idea for Audio Manufacturer Outreach

Last week I was sitting a barber chair at the Proper Barber shop, talking with Alonzo, my barber, about music. He had just finished explaining "trap" music to me, and he commented about the "crappy little speakers" located at the back of the shop, up near the corners of the room. I thought to myself, "Too bad he doesn't have better-sounding loudspeakers..." And then I had an idea... 

AR-coffeeshop3a.pngWhy don't some retailers and/or manufacturers have an established retail store loaner program? 

High Performance audio manufacturers regularly loan gear to reviewers, why not loan gear to selected retail establishments, too? Hip barber shops and coffee shops are naturals for demo systems - they have ideal demographics (younger, disposable income, etc.) and instead of "forcing" customers to enter an unfamiliar retail space, customers can experience better quality sound in their own known environments where they can experience it for themselves. The primary restriction would be the store doesn't sell audio gear or any other competing products, and the average customer spends at least five minutes inside the store. 

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How would this work? Actually, it could be very similar to what manufacturers do with reviewers - send out product, make sure it is set up correctly, periodically monitor the installation, and generate leads and publicity from the installation. There could also be periodic "listening parties" at these retail locations. Would this entail more work for manufacturers, reps, and dealers? Sure, but it would deliver access to a market that is ripe for expansion, if only audio firms could make their presence known. 

Manufacturers could even take a program like this one, and then add a certification aspect where a retail establishment could be certified a "True Hi-Fi Zone" or some such impressive moniker...and develop a whole in-store certification program. 

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What sort of retail locations could work for this program? I mentioned barber and coffee shops, but there are many other stores where a great-sounding audio system would be an appropriate and effective marketing tool. Clothing Boutiques, restaurants, bars, even, gasp, record stores, could benefit from a well-installed sound system... 

Building it (if that it is a stereo store) and expecting customers to magically show up doesn't work. Audio firms must go to where the ears are, and those ears are ripe for the grabbing, but only if some audio firms can begin thinking "outside the box" of the current old-fashioned sales and demo model. 

AR-coffeeshop6a.jpgAs we audiophiles all know, great sounding music is addicting, and once you've heard music presented in high fidelity, in a familiar environment, it is hard to go back to the quality equivalent of a Dixie cup and a string...manufacturers already have the tools to turn any music-loving human into an audiophile, if only they had the means to use them...

 

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