Back in 2008, research showed that a third of consumers didn’t know that they could buy aftermarket car audio from a local specialist and a third had had a bad experience at a specialist or felt that 12v specialists had a bad reputation.
That figure is even higher today, said Coyote Insight, which originally performed the study and then conducted more proprietary research on the subject two years ago. Although Coyote’s CEO Bill Matthies wasn’t asking the same questions more recently, he believes it is fair that today, right now, it is likely that half of U.S. consumers either hasn’t heard of a car audio shop or believes the shops have a bad reputation. (We know the math doesn’t quite work in an apples to apples comparison with the 2008 findings, but this is Coyote’s conclusion based on the set of questions that it has been asking consumers more recently).
“About 50 percent of the people either doesn’t know about aftermarket dealers or knows, but doesn’t like what they see,” said Matthies. “50 percent is horrible,” he said. For tablets or smartphones, the answer would be closer to 15 percent. And he believes the answer for home audio would be better than for car audio.
HOWEVER, the good news remains the same as it was back in 2008, that there is demand for the products car audio specialists sell. “The demand is there, but it’s just not being addressed properly, in my opinion, by dealers and manufacturers. I don’t think they are doing the job they should to create the market,” said Matthies.
He acknowledges that new cars come with better audio systems. But he adds that “the industry isn’t talking to [consumers] anymore. Retailers aren’t interesting them in what they have. It’s what I call self-select. If you know what you want, it’s out there; if you don’t know what you want, the industry isn’t doing a good job of helping.”
The general consumer electronics market may be guilty of the same problem, he adds, whether it’s TV or digital audio. “But it’s a much bigger problem with autosound because of the installation level as well.”
He said the first thing the industry needs to do is recognize that very little is being done to be heard by consumers.
For retailers, he cautions about talking over the heads of consumers. If you are a customer buying a mirrorless camera, you may go into a shop and they start talking over your head. You’ll just nod and walk out, “because it wasn’t the right conversation. That happens with car stereo,” he said.