Clarion Exits US Brick and Mortar Aftermarket

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Clarion FDS

Updated again--Clarion Corporation, a long-time brand in the car audio aftermarket, which won much attention at CES this year for an all-digital car audio system, announced it will no longer sell its products to US aftermarket brick and mortar stores.

It will continue to sell to aftermarket brick and mortar retailers in Canada and outside the US.

In the US, Clarion’s aftermarket distribution will be limited exclusively to sales to Amazon, Crutchfield and Sonic Electronix.

Corporate VP Marketing & Product Planning Allen Gharapetian said instead that for Clarion, as a niche market player, it no longer made sense to try to compete with larger suppliers in the aftermarket.

[We have removed an earlier statement here that Clarion said did not come from its corporate headquarters but rather a spokesman and was incorrect].

“…any company in the retail space can tell you, for the last several years, sales have shifted heavily from brick and mortar retailers to online sites such as Amazon. The driving force behind that is the consumers themselves who are looking for convenience, selection, and competitive pricing.”

An emailed statement said, “In a move to align itself better with this trend, Clarion Corporation of America will now exclusively market its automotive aftermarket products through three of the leading online retailers which include Amazon, Crutchfield and Sonic Electronix,”

Clarion added, “Being able to focus exclusively on the aforementioned online retailers, the company believes it will be able to provide a better product selection, greater service, and more competitive pricing to consumers.”

We hope to have more information on Clarion’s market plans later today.

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41 Comments

  1. I’m reading all these comments and wondering if Clarion was so irrelevant for many years the impact of this decision should be irrelevant. Moreover, you can buy almost any car audio products on line. This industry needs to put constant pressure on the manufactures to protect our profits , if they want more volume then give us better buy in programs with extended terms and advertising dollars to promote the products. In addition don’t refuse the customer who walks in with a Clarion or any other internet purchase, convince them to return it by selling the value of your warranty on your product and labor. You just made a new customer vs. turning one away.

  2. I believe that I will have to say no to installing Clarion products from here forward. Yes, I would like the opportunity to do business with anyone who reaches out to my store, but I will not offer support to a company that will not directly support my customer through a presence in the stores themselves. I will make sure my staff knows how to explain this to our customers.

    Customers and the marketplace are ever changing, but one thing that cannot change is being empowered to provide first rate service. I cannot be empowered by a business model that is not willing to have a direct relationship with my store, which translates into my service being no better than the online provider and that is not going to happen in my store. Period.

    The current Vendors I partner with provide first rate service to my store which empowers us to provide first rate service to my customers. They are available with inventory and answers to service needs, advice to solve problems, and even make exceptions to their own policies when needed to provide the ultimate customer service.

    We can never forget that we are selling goods and services that customers don’t really need, but they want them. The more it costs in time and money to maintain or service these goods, the less the customer will want them any more. Please do not support this business model.

  3. “…any company in the retail space can tell you, for the last several years, sales have shifted heavily from brick and mortar retailers to online sites such as Amazon…”

    Anyone in technology who uses this statement as an excuse to bail on B&M stores needs to rethink their strategy.

    This is basically an omission of failure. The rich and innovative history of what’s kept Clarion around for over 7 decades has been seriously misplaced. The truth in this is simple. Clarion’s sales in B&M stores is suffered to other brands that are more innovative, technologically advanced, and have a better and deeper vision. If Clarion could learn to be more proactive to technology than reactive, they wouldn’t have to rely on price to sell their gear. If Clarion’s approach to competitiveness was a little more passionate, the independent retailers would continue to provide the spark that drives the car audio industry through passion.

    You can’t fix a sales problem by changing sales people if the product is not advanced enough to compete in the marketplace. A marketing strategy only works if the product can compete.

    This is a sad. They are either completely backwards in their process, or the concession to the internet is a sign they aren’t even trying.

  4. Crutchfield should just cut their losses now and dump the line as well. The creds on Clarion is next to zero already and the costs to keep a marginal line with high defects is not a good investment…not to mention the possibility of getting stuck with bad inventory.

  5. I gave up on name brands years ago, I now sell Boss, Planet Audio, Soundstorm, Power Acoustik etc type brands and my profits have never been higher!! Sadly they offer a wider range of products and the defect rate is as good or lower than the name brands. We also sell brands that WANT brick and mortar business, so no great loss here.

  6. During my years in car audio, Clarion cannot figure itself out. First it was a move into big box stores. That didn’t work so they were “committed to the specialty retailer”. Then back to the big boxes. Then again a specialty brand. Back and forth so many times I lost track. Then it was online sales.

    Goodby Clarion!

  7. This is what happens when the suits lose all sense of reality on what’s happening in our industry. I gaurantee you if clarion would have continued to be innovators their dealer base would be much larger. They need to move units and due to the lack of trust in the brand and lack of profit as well the brick and mortar stores dropped drastically over the past few years. So the only way they can continue to move boxes is through the Internet. But they will see once the brick and mortar stores refuse to install clarion’s product and their return rate sky rockets … well we all know the out come of this story.

  8. Hey Clarion try to find someone to insytall your products in the Hudson Valley N.Y. It won’t happen!
    I will now recomend not to buy your products.

  9. Interesting – At every dealer meeting we set up over a 2 year period with three different national sales managers (Clarion seemed to go through them regularly), store owners and management without exception told them that they would totally support the brand if Clarion could just raise the gross profit a little. Of course, Clarion chose to ignore them. Talk about a Race to Zero!

  10. A bigger announcement than a big deal. Clarion hasn’t been a real factor in the aftermarket segment in more than a decade. Still it stinks for the dealers who have supported them for so long (thank god we aren’t one of them.) I see them down the road becoming more of a boss/power accoustik type of brand and less of a brand recognized of having a real placein the market. Alpine should take notice that they need to wake up or they will find themselves in the same place.

  11. No one can fore-see the future, just past patterns. I can’t even fathom the amount of defective sku’s that will be coming back to Clarion from the future DIY screw ups and then let those people trash the brand name over all the reviews. Comes back around for sure….

  12. What’s interesting is that in the Pacific Northwest, every brick & mortar account they met with indicated that they would support the brand if Clarion would clean up their predatory E-Commerce pricing to raise the margins to a more acceptable level.

    Clarion’s Race to Zero was in record time! (Perhaps this is a lesson why vendors should listen to what their dealers are telling them.)

    1. I agree , Other head unit companies has lead this race to zero and other manufacturers have been trying to keep up. They should all stop selling Amazon, it is ruining our world. Soon there won’t be brick and mortar stores period.

  13. Short lived prophecy. Without specialty retailers creating demand for the brand they will soon wither away like the others that have tried this easy path. Sad to see the folks at the higher pay grade making poor decisions and failing so miserably. On-line only works if someone is creating a buzz. My advice would be to anyone who brings in the Clarion purchase to just say no. Amazon will take it back and after a while someone might take notice.

    1. Exactly. If you want to cut out the retailers, don’t expect them to support you in any way. These are tr reason Car audio is on the fast track to a grave. Corporate greed at it’s finest.

    1. I’m curious as to what store will want to take them back. They are just not a big deal to start with. I bet that they just fade away.

      1. when they fail miserably with this plan maybe Riz can pick up the remaining product and flip it for a better profit! 😉

  14. Who cares. The car audio business is not the same. Clarion is smart enough to not piss into the wind. If you had a courier service business before fax and email what would you do? Same deal.

    1. But whos gonna install it, we will never do it! Send it back to clarion! No internet installs here! Ever!

    2. Yes, the business is NOT the same. It’s ever increasingly becoming LESS DIY capable. We talk to customers EVERY DAY that cannot even hook up a simple 12-16 pin $15 harness, much less deal with the ever growing number of cars governed by body control computers and HVAC integration. The GOOD specialists have a very bright future! The courier service/fax system analogy doesn’t work because any idiot can send a fax without fail, but not so when it comes to installation. Mobile electronics is SO FAR BEYOND JUST THE DECISION OF WHAT TO BUY CHEAPER! We are only experiencing a momentary cycle change in our industry and NOT a permanent paradigm shift in the way that mobile electronics will forever be marketed. YES, the presence of AMAZON and the like have forever created the availability to buy cheap for almost everyone, BUT NOT EVERYTHING can be successfully sold and STAY SOLD via the internet. We’re not selling toilet paper and running shoes…at least I’m not. Our business is up 70% since 2011, in SPITE of the internet and the emergence of Amazon an unstoppable force. The manufacturer’s of good products will forever rely on good brick and mortar shops to make it all work!

  15. The person who made this decision should go ahead and start looking for a new job once this backfires spectacularly.

  16. Clarion has not been an important part of the brick and mortar store for years. Not a great loss as there are other companies whom we can turn too. Alpine unless something happens will be next as they like Clarion have completely lost focus of their roots, once a go to brand now not hardly even thought of. The greatest concern we have is not Clarion abandoning their dealer network but the other manufacturers that sell to anyone and everyone and allow their product to be sold on the internet at or just above cost. They say they are policing their product but you and I know this is not true because Stillwater, Memphis and a very select few do police their product and are doing a pretty good job at it. I can be confident when a customer comes in and shops me on Ebay, Amazon or another online store and the price is going to be just about all the time at MAP with these brands. The buying groups are no help as you pay your monthly fees to get a lower price or special to just turn around and sell if for less but make no more profit. We are probably to far into the game for any company to realize that the brick and mortar store are still a viable resource, but we need product that we can make money on! Kenwood Excelon is supposed to be one of those brands but here again the line can be found at flea markets,online, at retail or just about anyplace that calls themselves a car audio specialists but at prices that are at or just above cost. I have been in the car audio business for over thirty years and more than anything it has and continues to be our own manufacturing partners that are causing our biggest headaches. As for Clarion give them a few years and they will be just another brand that we will be reminiscing about around the old campfire.

  17. Does this mean that Clarion is going to exit the brick and mortar INSTALLATIONS too? At the end of the day the retailers is very important if not the most important part of the chain. Cheers to all retailers who continue to invest in their stores to make this industry great.

  18. My store will not install any Clario purchased off the internet.
    Whoever made this decision at Clarion knows nothing about 12-volt and retail and will be unemployed soon enough!

    1. Agree with your response, as we will not support and product purchased from any internet site including Crutchfield sonic electronics or Online Car stereo, MTX or Clarion! We are here to pit food on our tables amd customers buying from the net, we dont support or we will never install it!

  19. I don’t think that they have ever been easy to do business with. As far as I’m concerned, they can go “love themselves”. LV

  20. Well once again another manufacture thinks going the way of the web is better than the brick and mortar stores …. Hummmmm how’d that work out for MTX. Besides does it really matter …. Its not like they were setting the world on fire. Always a year or 2 behind everyone else.

  21. This is the beginning of the end for Clarion as a consumer brand. Without the Aftermarket specialists to differentiate from the rest AND to install it, it will NOT do well head to head against the really big hitters in head units. And it will NEVER survive as a speaker and amp brand. Once this experiment backfires in their face, NO ONE will take them back!

  22. Since Clarion has always had one of the highest defect rates in the industry, they must be banking on their return ratio decreasing since consumers are more likely to just purchase something else instead of jump through the hoops that the these online sellers will demand.

    1. You have to love these concepts. And when the consumer who knows everything such as speaker size, what dash kit they need, CANBUS adaptor etc (NOT) they will be trying to send it back and Mr Amazon will of course know every make and model of car and what fits.
      Ridiculous idea.

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