Even though car audio sales have been trending downward, “This is not the end of our business. Our business is based on innovation…so we do have an opportunity that is being laid out in front of us,” Audiovox’s Steve Witt told retailers last week. “Selling driver safety is a huge part of many of your manufacturers’ 3 to 5 year plans for business.”
At a webinar Friday hosted by the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA), Witt explained that driver safety products will play an important role in the future of the car audio aftermarket, but they are a different type of sale than entertainment.
Driver safety products include backup cameras and newer 360 degree backup camera systems. They also include forward collision avoidance products like Mobileye, lane departure warning systems, DVR (Digital Video Recorder) systems, blind spot detectors, vehicle tracking, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems), and products or software that block texting while driving.
J.D. Power studies have consistently shown that driver safety technology is one of the top items consumers want in a new car. And the good news for specialists is that over 27 percent of the 250 million vehicles on the road are more than 10 years old and have very little safety equipment. Retailers can push the message that you don’t need to spend $30,000 or more to get this technology in a new car.
“I would ask, respectfully, that you take the time to think about how am I going to grow my business…there’s an opportunity to really get behind this category, but we have to wrap our heads around that it’s a different kind of sale,” Witt said.
Unlike audio/video entertainment safety is a need not a want. It’s an emotional sale for 3 reasons: to protect the car itself; to avoid harming a child or pedestrian and to avoid making stupid driving mistakes.
“We can’t do the same kind of sales pitch, we have to merchandise the benefits…even simple Bluetooth handsfree is a safety product. If you think about how you would sell a head unit with Bluetooth versus one without, that gives you clues to how you can sell this safety category,” said Witt.
He suggests starting a social media campaign or holding a driver safety event (something the local press would likely pick up in a story). “You start to position your store as the place to come to get some of the new safety products installed.” The idea is to create a buzz in your market. Witt also encourages retailers to ask their suppliers for suggestions on marketing, and help with in-store displays.
A quick poll taken by MERA President Chris Cook during the webinar found that 36 percent of retailers attending online said that safety related product is less than 10 percent of their business. Only 9 percent said it is 51 percent or more. But 45 percent said it is between 11 and 45 percent.
“We have to grow this category, folks. It’s where the next revenue will come for all of us,” said Witt.
Source: CEoutlook via MERA