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.”