During a wide-ranging interview with Alpine USA’s Mike Anderson by the Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) last week, Anderson echoed other aftermarket executives who believe the boom in sales currently enjoyed by dealers will continue at least through the presidential election in November and likely to the end of the year and beyond.
“The stimulus has played a role, but people who are continuing to work are spending money on things rather than experiences. Americans like to spend money. They can’t take a vacation and we’ve been the benefactor of that,” said Anderson, Vice President and General Manager at Alpine.
Like others, Alpine was caught off guard by the surge in sales. “We’ve been completely blown away by the way our business has flourished in this environment. When things shut down in mid-March we all thought it was Armageddon and wondered when will business come back. And then when it did, roughly starting in May, and building.. it has been exploding. I’d like to think that’s going to continue.”
June was the biggest month at Alpine since 2014 and July exceeded that.
One of Alpine’s strategies over the past few years has been to create an easy way for those who buy an Alpine product to upgrade to a fuller system. It started with Power Pack amplifiers that lock into the company’s iLX-W650 head unit. The same strategy is applied to Alpine’s new Halo loaded subwoofer enclosures that can be linked together with a kit so a single enclosure can be upgraded to a dual. “We’re trying to take customers that may have started in a small way and give them a path of upgrade within the brand,” he said.
One surprise of the pandemic is a large number of DIYers buying product from Alpine, who are then turning to dealers for help. “We know that because our tech support lines have been bombarded by people trying to get through an installation. There’s probably a good population of people that ultimately throw their arms up in the air and head to a specialist.”
On retail, Anderson said, “The retail stores that have had an opportunity to revisit their store and come up with sanitizing and social distancing,…the retailers quick to adopt to that have been the most successful and I think it is important to promote that you sanitize the vehicle before and after you work on it. With people concerned about social distancing they might be apt to go to a retail location where you expect to see fewer people rather than more. So this is a good time for specialists.”
Anderson got his start in the industry working part time during college for Sam Goody in its home audio/musical instrument department. “Sam Goody did a really good job training staff…we were well trained to overcome objections on price. I can definitely relate to what retailers face…” aid Anderson. From there he went to Pioneer and moved over to Alpine in 1990 where he’s been ever since.
The interview with Anderson was conducted by Chris Cook, President of MEA and may be viewed here.