Car Audio Reboot (Part III)

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Keith Lehmann

This is a part of a series of editorials from industry veteran and former Executive VP of Kenwood USA  Keith Lehmann who address the question, “How can the mobile electronics reach the new connected consumer?”

By Keith Lehmann

It’s time to realize that sound and vision matters again!  This is a battle that many aftermarket manufacturers and retailers have given up on, yet the trend is clearly in favor of sound quality and higher definition video performance.

Now that download speeds are faster and memory is bigger, the car has more access to high definition audio and video.  So the connected consumer will finally realize what many of us already know:  Factory radio systems severely limit audio and video performance because their old, cheaper technology.

Let’s also remember that the average age of a passenger vehicle driving on the streets of the U.S. is 11.3 years old.  That’s over 150,000,000 vehicles on the road today that were delivered from the factory without Bluetooth, satellite radio compatibility, iPhone/Android compatibility, navigation, HD Radio, Pandora and so many other technologies that are being promoted by the car companies in their ads.  Here again is an opportunity to point out the relevance aftermarket products have to millions of connected consumers.

What’s stopping us from getting this message across?

The sheer amount of  mass media coverage being given to gaming, tablets, smartphones, wearables and other devices should somehow be tied in to the mobile electronics aftermarket, yet it has not.

Why not? A core reason is the unwillingness of most manufacturers and retailers to look beyond the end of the month sales.  Instead they should look at the opportunities to teach connected consumers about what we offer.

It is, for example, inexcusable for any manufacturer to drop off high technology products at their dealers’ doorstep without providing access to adequate education and selling tools that explain their relevance to the connected consumer.  It is also inexcusable that many retailers have refused to execute even the most minimal amount of promotion within their communities to attract these consumers and, when engaging these customers in-store, they fail to effectively explain and demonstrate new products to the satisfaction of these customers.

These are problems that have been discussed for many years and yet, with few exceptions, the aftermarket continues on its merry way toward irrelevance.

Don’t expect solutions to be delivered in an industry-wide manner that turns the tide –manufacturers cannot save the industry.  But perhaps individual retailers can save themselves by taking practical and well-known steps to position themselves as true specialists and become the “connected experts” within their communities.    To continue see Part IV.

Keith Lehmann is a 30-year veteran of the consumer electronics industry. Lehmann was most recently Executive Vice President of Kenwood USA Corporation and in charge of the company’s consumer electronics sector for over ten years. Today, Lehmann is a consumer electronics industry consultant and advisor to companies, organizations and media outlets.

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1 Comment

  1. I found your article to be a very insightful read. To me, the hardest hitting comment made was;
    “The unwillingness of most manufacturers and retailers to look beyond the end of the month sales. Instead they should look at the opportunities to teach connected consumers about what we offer”. Thanks Keith!

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