Kenwood Enters Walmart in September

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Kenwood will begin selling 2 car radio models at Walmart stores beginning in September, the company confirmed.

KenwoodThe radios are entry-level models including a $95 radio and will be “derivatives,” offering slightly different features than typical Kenwood radios.

Alpine would then become the only remaining top 5 car radio brand that is not sold through Walmart.

Kenwood said it made the difficult decision to enter Walmart in order “to sustain volume in a flat business environment.  We felt this was the most controllable and responsible way to do it, as opposed to online marketplace merchants,” said Senior VP Consumer Electronics Keith Lehmann.

He noted, that Kenwood is only offering 2 SKUs through the mass merchant.  “There’s no attempt whatsoever to place the full line of product at Walmart.”

Lehmann said the Walmart deal will give Kenwood the incremental sales that will help it keep the Excelon program for car audio specialists intact.

Kicker will also enter Walmart in September with a limited number of car amplifiers and speakers.

Source: CEoutlook

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18 Comments

  1. “Derivatives”, meaning they are going to sneak an inconspicuous “W” somewhere into the model number to fool us all!!

    It worked so well for Sony!

    Wait, why was I buying Sony “W” radios by the case last year from my distributors then? Because even Wal-Mart couldn’t keep their promise to buy and sell what they projected!!

  2. Wow, I’m not even ALLOWED to buy and sell Kenwood in my own retail area, because of protected market by distributors….

    That says a lot when you offer it to the lower class, do-it-yourself customers, before even opening your market to us specialty retailers/expeditors who would like to buy, MARK-UP, promote, and sell your products through legitimate procedures, and fight off internet undercutting.

    Sad day indeed, when companies we’ve supported for over 30 years think that selling 20,000 units at 3% margin to Wal-Mart is going to make them money to stay in business in any sort of future…

    The Rolex analogy is a great example. There is no longer any “need” for the customer to come to a specialty shop, even the poor folk that don’t have the interwebs are now given a choice to get the good stuff, with no clue as to what they are really buying…

  3. the problem with our industry is lack of control and marketing. the manufacturers want the stores to solve their problems while the stores are waiting for the manufacturers to do the same. manufacturers need to control distribution, develop marketing plans that work for different store volumes and provide in store training materials. reps need to do their part as well, they need to execute marketing programs and ensure all stores are in compliance with their agreements. stores need to buy direct, implement marketing strategies and conduct training. the manufacturers see walmart as a store that has marketing plans, they do not see the long term affect, what happened to lightning audio and qlogic when they went in walmart? let me address the internet issue as well. manufacturers see the internet as the next best thing, if the internet is moving so much product then why are these manufacturers still not gaining profit? i will let the manufacturers in on a secret, when a customer buys their product from walmart or online, they take it to a specialty dealer for install. the specialty dealer will not tell the customer that he bought great product, he tells him he made a mistake and should have bought a different brand. the specialty dealer will deflate the sale and then try to re-sale that same customer. no specialty dealer will back up walmart only product, they will point out walmarts return policy and then get the customer to buy from his store. the internet is a problem, but i know people in other forms of business that are having a tough time. the internet is not killing the lawn service business, but the guy that cuts my grass is struggling in this economy. if the manufacturers, reps and stores work together we can rebuild.

  4. I know Keith Lehmann. This was a business decision. No more. No less. That said, the really sad statement that wasn’t made is that manufacturers do not see sufficient ROI in helping specialty retailers to market and promote their products and the specialty retail business model. Build a better retailer with a sustainable business model and you assure the future of the industry. Don’t blame Kenwood for going into Walmart. We are all to blame for allowing the specialty retailer to fade in relevance and importance in the minds of the consumers.

  5. The problem with Walmart is that the Cromagnites that shop there will try to install it themselves(The Peter Principle).The end result will be massive returns and a cheapening of the brand name. Basically Kenwood and Kicker will be like Pyramid; a Flea market brand that Cromagnites try to install themselves,destroy the product,and then blame the unit not the Idiot behind the wheel!

  6. When one of the top CA brand has to go to Wal-Mart to “sustain volume”, then Houston, we have a problem. Doing business with Wal-Mart is not easy and it demands a constant supply of product without any hiccups. Who is to say how much of the manufacturing focus and allocation will be centered around supplying Wal-Mart with product. Do you delay the shipment of product to your independents to insure your parts supply is being used to build enough product for Wal-Mart? Also, the initial orders from Wal-Mart are substantial and the temptation to add another sku will be hard to resist. Alpine: you have some tough decisions to make. Don’t screw it up!

  7. Specialty retailers, This is (as all business are) a cyclical business. Brands come and go and often adjust their market presense. Categories come and go. Consumers are constant. A thinking specialty retailer always rides the wave he is on all the to the beach if necessary. BUT more importantly a thinking specialty retailer always has the next wave in sight and has a plan to identify the wave behind that too. These are not evil or bad brands or brand decissions. After all they have informed their customers and the market of their intentions. Retailers did not have to hear about this move from their consumers. This “No Surprise” announcement (Walmart and its consumers are quite predictable) provides an environment for retailers to make effective plans and take actions necessary to continue to provide the consumer with an experience which the consumer cannot hope to find at the “other places”. It should be less about the brands you sell and more about the value add… Better system design, installation capability and educate the consumer about the listening experience. Teach the consumer (selling and creating demand) about something you do that that the other guys can’t or won’t do.

  8. Realy!!!
    It worked so well for Sony, have you seen their stock price lately? It’s in the crapper. This move cheapens a brands reputation. The “Low Price Leader” is not known for quality products. Wal-Mart continualy beats on it’s suppliers to lower their quality in order to lower their price. This is true on everything they sell. These two companies need to fire the bean counters and hire a real manager that knows the industry. This business was not founded
    by the big box stores, the independants made it great.

  9. Copied and pasted from my comment on the Kicker version:

    Walmart Everyday Low Price (which will maintain MAP pricing) vs Amazon Third Party Marketplace (and zero adherance to MAP). In which scenario are we all better off?

    You guys fail to see the bigger picture. Vendors need to take Eggs from the Big Blue Basket before they crack…

  10. Think about it??? This might stop the Guy that can’t spend money from walking into a 12 only store asking for a radio to fill a hole. And it also might give you a radio to install later! Ever try and use a Wal-Mart Puzzle kit?
    This poor guys going to have to have this installed, and let’s face it margin on a 90 dollar radio isn’t much anyway. Kits kind of you don’t have to deal with the hassle of sealing and stocking it. Then you always have the opportunity when he’s in the store to sale him on a better radio with more features when he sees what else he could have gotten, and this is a guy that might have never walked into the store.
    Wal-mart won’t do Car radio installs, they can hardly do tires and batteries right as it is now. (The statement was vague it wasn’t meant to tick any one person off it was just from past exp. I have had with Wal-Mart’s tire departments you will find some of the guys do know the job and does it right)
    The time spent on trying to sale this guy a bottom of the line stereo could have been spent doing something like calling back old customers to talk about life and or ask how the system is doing they got 2 years ago.

  11. This is a Sad day. Car Audio will always be around. The big box can
    Only take the Brands that are willing to take the dirt road. This is like
    Selling Rolex watches at Wal Mart. Should never happen because
    Then people will not look up to it, they will look down. Wal Mart is a
    Great company for clothes, food, paint, etc. The specialty stuff should
    Be left to the ones that treat it that way.

    1. Gus,

      If you go to Wal-Mart for food, clothes, etc. Which in your words they are good for. Then you are part of the problem as well. Don’t feed the beast. I work for a company that most of you despise. That being said I would never buy even food from Wal-Mart as they want to put my company out of business. Why give them $5 for Hot Pockets when they will use that $5 to try and put me out of a job?

  12. I understand that the market is soft. but to take brands that the smaller retail store get them where they are today. i feel that it’s a slap in the face to all the smal guys all there. once they fail in the big chain store they will back to the small guys and put preassure on them to put more product or loose the line. this is the reason why we have seen more manufactures go out of business. i guess they can’t read between the lines. just saying.

  13. Car audio is experiencing a slow death. The market is almost none existent in my area. Companies are doing what they have to do to survive. It is unfortunate, but a reality.

    The small shops made these companies what they are, and I know they are not forgetting us, but there hands are tied.

    Face it, there are fewer shops and fewer customers. We know it, and they know it.

    In my eye, going into Walmart cheapens the brand, and makes it a less desirable product to sell.

    The way it’s going Walmart will be the last big box retailer standing. Once this happens they will have full control over the manufacturers. They will tell the manufacturers what they are willing to pay and they will have no choice but to cheapen their product or go out of business. Walmart is a slippery slope for manufacturers.

  14. All I can say is wow! Manufactures are jumping on board with the one company who’s primary goal is to take out independent retailers. Not just car audio, but all independent retailers. How long before we see install bays at Walmart?

  15. It cheap’n there brand name to wallyworld brand. BOX stores fail – fire these marketing people and hire some reps to hit the road again.

    Watch Idiocracy a 2006 film it will explain everything

  16. Is there a pattern emerging here? With Best Buy Canada shutting down car audio sales and installs, the brands they carried are moving to Wal-Mart now?

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