Here’s the Details on Clarion’s Exit From US Brick & Mortar

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Clarion Corporation revealed details on its surprise announcement yesterday regarding its exit from most of the US aftermarket.

The company clarified that will continue to sell marine audio to US brick and mortar retailers, said a spokesman.

Also, Clarion will continue to support its retailers through the transition over the next three months.  “We are going to completely support our current distribution system,” said Corporate VP Marketing & Product Planning Allen Gharapetian.

Clarion’s new all-digital car audio system and all of Clarion’s car audio products will be sold through the three online retailers–Crutchfield, Amazon and Sonic Electronix– which now become Clarion’s exclusive US aftermarket retailers.

Gharapetian said the decision to exit the US brick and mortar market was actually made over several years.

“It just didn’t make sense. We are a niche player.  We have certain technology we’d like to bring to the market, but ….this is a very competitive market, which is dominated by other high volume players.  We didn’t think it’s something we could continue doing,” said Gharapetian.  He added, that much of Clarion’s energy became devoted to policing the Internet to enforce MAP (minimum advertised prices).

Clarion will instead focus on its OEM business.

Reaction to the news of Clarion’s US brick and mortar withdrawal was a mix of surprise, anger and sadness.

Sony issued a statement avowing its commitment to the US car audio specialist, and its belief there is a positive future for the specialist.  “With strict online authorizations, careful compliance control of transshipping and the integrity of our voluntary MAP programs; we find that the value in our specialty brick and mortar retailers, who offer the unique personal touch and trust of a consumer’s vehicle and the aftermarket products to enhance them, to be equally as valuable as our relationships with Amazon, Sonic and Crutchfield,” said National Sales Manager for Sony Mobile Electronics Rick Kojan.

One Clarion dealer described his reaction as complete surprise.  “I’m sad it see it go. It’s been a very profitable line for us because it hasn’t been at every Tom, Jack and Jill dealer,” said Alex Garcia owner of Exotic Car Audio in Chico, CA. He said Clarion offered better margins than some of the more widely known car audio brands.

Garcia continued, despite the many comments on yesterday’s story chiding Clarion for defective product, Garcia said, “I haven’t experienced that. I think I had two units sent back in 6 years.”  He believes he will replace the line with Sony.

JVC Mobile General Manager–National Sales Manager Ron Trout said, “It’s unfortunate when we lose competition. In the short term, there’s a benefit, but in the long term, it affects the market. Competition is good for the market.”

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10 Comments

  1. Oh my what will out our industry do to recover from yet another subpar high failure rate company do ??? Oh the sky is falling with Clarion RA forms??

    (sarcasm aside)
    My only request to Clarion is please flood the internet with your half broken subpar products. Please… Please.. Please..

    Another Junk company bites the dust. Don’t let the door hit in you the [email protected]@. Good Riddance!

  2. Instead of refusing to install internet purchased Clarion equipment I’m thinking tack on 15% surcharge and customer also pays with any warranty issues for us to diagnose from day 1. When asked by said customer about why the surcharge explain that past history with this brand/line has a much higher incident of repair when compared to other named brands in the same price range. Though Clarion has not been relevant other than it’s Marine Line which it says will still support the current retail distribution channels I’m fairly confident that the online merchants will have the Marine products as well and will erode the prices down to 10 points over cost which again is a slap to the specialist stores.
    The question I ask is using this model of distribution, without support from the specialist brick and mortar’s, what is their end game plan? Certainly not to grow and capture market share obviously and that leaves what? Live off it’s past reputation of a reliable, decent sounding line like other lines have done and to be re-tooled with really cheap inexpensive parts that won’t last a year? It’s why I don’t go to concerts with the old “reunion tours” of bands with 1 original member living off their one hit, one album shows. Geezer rock, re-living the past just don’t cut it now days.

  3. Clarion has not been relevant for several years. This is a desperation move for certain. The key to this is for the 12 volt retailers to send a message to all parties involved by not installing any Clarion product. Be polite, show the customer an alternative to the Clarion but do not install. After the returns start to mount someone might take notice. It will be interesting to see how the retail price is affected when only three players are in the game. With no third party trouble makers on line it won’t be so easy for on line merchants to deflect the pricing problems and blame someone else. Amazon is only relevant in this game because of price. This will be interesting to say the least. DO NOT INSTAll CLARION!

  4. Many companies have made self-serving distribution moves in the past and it had come back to bite them. We are no longer the most forgiving industry in the world; one bitten, twice shy. If you know what this brand has done in the past several years; there was no other choice than to become a niche brand. Prima facie, it seems like the last act of a desperate brand.

    Our industry’s distribution practices have been and still is the root of its issues. Over-distribution was the beginning of the fall. The Walmartization of our category has killed the spirit of independent dealers who were the life blood of this business; guess what… they still are.

    So let the top brands do what they will. The brands that will benefit from these ivory tower decisions will be smaller companies that have their focus on the importance of the independent dealer. When all of the independent Car Audio Dealers left standing after this recession recognize their importance to their suppliers, they will be better off. Loyalty works both ways.

  5. The reality of Clarion’s down fall comes down to Japan! The “executives” in Japan who actually run Clarion and tell their “teams” who work in the US what to do are 100% responsible for this. Yes, it started many moons ago, but it was Clarion of Japan that did this. Other Japanese car audio companies need to take notice. They are only as good as the people who actually run the company in Japan. If their Japan people don’t take the time to understand the US market, and listen to their US dealers, then over time, the same thing will happen to them.

    1. I it hard to believe that Japan is 100% behind this. For example; Clarion Canada offers more sku’s then their US counter part. They also hold a greater percentage of the market in Canada than Clarion US does here. Because of these facts, it leads me to believe that this is the CHOICE of the management of Clarion US and not necessarily Clarion Japan. Not only that, but if this was a long and thought out decision by Clarion, we would not be reading a secondary press release to … “Clarify” … their original release. THIS MOVE IS ABOUT 1 THING AND ONE THING ONLY … MOVING BOXES. Because they could not control the pricing online their box count dropped, along with their dealers trust. Therefore the only way they see they can move boxes is the internet. I guess the internet is also going to create the branding of the line as well…

  6. Many years ago I worked as a rep for the southeastern region and can tell you that Clarion lost interest in independents a long time ago. Trans shipping was always a no, until the end of the month came and numbers where down. Then upper management would want to ship anything it could, to anyone who would take it. Let’s just say I saw this coming years ago. No loyalty there.

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