Alpine has shifted its focus back to general car radios after a five year strategy of fielding truck-specific radios, that catered to a narrowed audience.
Now that it is re-adding the universal radios embraced by specialists, it is launching a number of programs to help support the specialist channel.
“Because of the focus on trucks we lost some attention from specialists,” acknowledged Alpine Assistant VP Sales Mike Anderson.
But, in the past 18 months, Alpine released a full line of CarPlay/Android Auto universal decks. Last year it also released a popular Halo9 supersized car radio that fits most cars.
So, Alpine was able to increase its aftermarket car audio sales last year by high single digits over 2017.
“With that backdrop, we thought what we really need to do is make some investments in the specialist channel to regain our position with specialists. We wanted to take a different approach, putting people in the field to be Alpine ambassadors to elevate the level of knowledge about Alpine,” said Anderson.
So it added 8 field reps (including one district manager) in the past 14 months. Then it created a floor-standing demo display and its adding a second display this year.
It also made waves last month, launching one of the lowest priced CarPlay decks from a leading brand. It’s mechless (CD/DVD-less) iLX-W650 has going price of $299.
For the first time in 10 years, Alpine launched a demo car program, and this year it’s adding three more vehicles to the fleet. “It’s kind of old school, but it’s working,” said Anderson of the demo vehicle program. The vehicles are vinyl wrapped with the slogan “Alpine X-Perience” and inside they include a Halo9 and other equipment.
This year Alpine will also participate in 200 dealer sales events. The brand specialist will show up with a demo vehicle and Alpine helps to promote the event on its own social media.
Last year 110 Alpine demo displays were distributed to dealers. Some stores complained they didn’t have enough floor space for a full display so this year Alpine will distribute another 50 scaled down displays. Dealers buy the products to put in the displays but the display itself is free.
The field specialists are also charged with getting feedback from dealers and consumers on Alpine product. Anderson said this kind of information helped it shape its Jeep-specific head units. Jeep owners said there was a glare on the screen, so it added anti-glare technology and consumers also wanted off-road mapping, so Alpine added that feature, as well.