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BrianP
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Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream media?

JA and others frequently decry the lack of public awareness of quality audio. The industry must shoulder part of the blame for this situation, due to their failure to inform "the masses" of what is available. Most people do not read specialty audio magazines, and consequently the only brand they EVER see advertised is Bose. Thanks to a very clever marketing program directed toward general-interest media, this mediocre, overpriced brand becomes equated in the mind of the general public with "quality sound." This mass audience is simply never exposed to the better-sounding, cost-efective alternatives. If other manufacturers were to advertise in general-interest publications like Time, Newsweek, and People, as well as more upscale "lifestyle" magazines like Sunset and Playboy, perhaps they could start to win away some of this market share. Larger companies, such as Harman International, certainly have the marketing budget to tackle Bose on their own ground. Smaller (but still substantial) manufacturers like Paradigm and Polk might need to be a little more judicious and focused in how they spend their advertising dollars, but could still target publications like Popular Mechanics. Let people know what is out there, and maybe they will become interested!

bifcake
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

I think that Bose has made a name for itself by touting small, unobtrusive products as quality products. Their whole thing is that you get big sound out of a small, easily hidden package. With most high end manufacturers, physical size equates with quality. Look at CD player reviews where CD player's weight is equated with quality of construction and sound. Big, heavy objects with few features, poorly written manuals that are not necessarily intuitive to use are a tough sell to the mass market.

BillB
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

yeh, I don't think i EVER see ads/marketing for quality audio gear. Seems like that's the ONLY upscale area that doesn't put itself out there.

Reminds me of going to an acquaintance's home a few months ago. It's a huge fancy house, on 3 acres, must have cost a few million. Garage with 3 cars (BMW, Infinity, and big SUV). Everything in the house is "high end", regarding fixtures, kitchen, art, giant plasma tv's, etc. And the stereo system, sitting on an expensive table in the "great room", was the white plastic Bose box. WTF? I think this family is representative of the untapped market potential....

KBK
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

The heart of the problem is a deep 'unawareness' (new word!!) by the general public of anything that does not fit their 'general public' idea of what reality "is".

Attempting to change that is a fools game for the individual company or person. Anything less than a 3-5 year push in that area, is not going to do much.

For example, People have been conditioned, over time, to see televisions as this thin thing that hangs on walls, or sits on stands, with regards to futuristic or 'high quality' living or 'jet set/futuristic' living. That took time to establish.

Bose went in it for the long haul, and that has paid off.

But they also had the long green required for that push.

Getting High End companies to work together, for ANYTHING, is like, pardon the frustrated vernacular... like fooking trying to fooking herd fooking cats.

And to speak like a zealot in a religious scripting of a B grade dark film: "....and that shall be their undoing."

There's lots of prettier ways to dress it up and other ways to add more detail into a response, like 'the point man always dies', etc... but that's the larger part of the core of the thing.

Ariel Bitran
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

I believe that there is potential for high-end audio manufacturers in the mass market if they just create demand the right way and take down Bose as an opponent.

First of all, high-end audio manufacturers should go for the mass market in whatever they think they're target would read...i.e. people with a little more money. Part of the sellable idea of high end is that it carries some sort of esteem.

Second, if other high-end companies wish to enter the mass market, they have to take an approach that they're better than Bose. Bose is the undoubtedly the market leader. As a market follower advertising, you should take the stance of you're better than the market leader and state that in your ads. If high-end audio companies could do this and create some doubt in the public in their favorite company and a willingness to try something which heralds itself as being better or "more high-end," then maybe they can break into the market. High-end companies cannot make it into the market by simply entering themselves as is. They have little recognition and some level of disbelief from the consumer since Bose is supposedly the best. Maybe if a door is opened from that point, can audio manufacturers stop taking the comparative approach and go out on themselves.

My final idea is that advertising from the different companies to the mass-market could be done conjoined, as in 4 different companies one ad. While this may not raise the value of each individual company out there, it could increase the budget and at least raise the value of each individual company and the awareness of options.

More than anything, audio manufacturers would not only have to advertise for the company themselves but also the idea of listening to quality speakers (hence the multiple product approach). Since not to many people do it to begin with, the product category must be pushed as well as the brand.

dbowker
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

Very good points all of you. Let's not forget availability too. Where do people shop for their stereo anyway? Let's see: Best Buy, Circuit City and for "high-end" maybe Tweeter Etc. (which is bankruptcy I think). So even if some entry level high-end gear like Creek, Rega, PSB, Music Hall, etc. decided to make it their business to reach out we have the problem of too few outlets to buy them from. Going into a boutique shop, which often is a little on the snobby side would be intimidating at best and at worst kill the deal before anyone even stepped foot inside.

The cross-over brands like NAD, Denon, Infinty, and Cambridge Audio, Harmon Kardon are sort of known, and sort of available. I have often thought if you could just get the numbers up for certain products you'd be able to further push prices downward and really reap the benefits. In the end, some of it comes down to how much people care, which sadly isn't that much.

My sister's husband makes mega-bucks in bonds trading and their system is mostly built around being hidden (in wall and ceiling speakers) and that's about it. They think it sounds just fine whereas I think it sounds like crap. They would both claim to at least care somewhat about sound quality. He could've gotten something far better (even with the in-wall requirement) but I'd bet he did not even listen to the system before hand, and just bought what a salesman (or interior decorator) told him to get. Bleah!

BillB
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

Manufacturers and dealers travel to set up crazy expensive systems at CES etc shows, in non-optimized rooms. If I was a dealer, I'd set up a listening room at a big local shopping mall. Have fantastic sound, keep playing music (no static displays). You would reach thousands of new customers (who obviously have money to go shopping with).

Don't set up Wilsons and Krell to shock people with prices. Set up a fantastic $3000 system or two. I bet you would sell some right on the spot, and double your customers who later come to your store.

Do it in a hi-traffic mall area, like the booths that set up in the corridors. Don't make it an inside store location that you have to go looking for, make it one that intersects with the 99% of population that does NOT ordinarily pay visits to specialty audio stores.

There, I've solved the problem and made a couple dealers more financially secure. Send me 10%, dudes.

tom collins
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

one unfortunate fact that stands in the way of larger acceptance is the "easy" factor. i think bose sells well because it is all in one box and easy to handle (the sound is ok to the average person). kind of like an ipod in larger format. so, most people would want at most, a receiver with cd, but not separate amp, preamp, god forbid a turntable, cd player, interconnects and speaker wire, and 3 or 4 power cords. and if possible, they want it tied into their surround system. a rack of components is another piece of furniture to deal with not to mention real speakers with some kind of range. this is a lot to overcome. even if you can get someone to admit that the sound is great, can you get them to make the effort and then find the room?
i am not trying to be a wet blanket, and i like the idea of seeing more hi end audio in the mainstream, but the point of advertising is to get people into motion from a static position, to do so, i just wanted to point out the vast number of preconceived notions that must be overcome. these ideas may color the thinking of those individuals who would run those ads. sadly, we will probably stay a "niche" hobby.

tom

ethanwiner
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m


Quote:
If other manufacturers were to advertise in general-interest publications like Time, Newsweek, and People, as well as more upscale "lifestyle" magazines like Sunset and Playboy


Do you have any idea what ads in those magazines cost? It's a lot more than an ad in Stereophile!

--Ethan

Ariel Bitran
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m


Quote:
Do you have any idea what ads in those magazines cost? It's a lot more than an ad in Stereophile!

Ethan, you're very right with this one. To run a full-page ad in People magazine it costs $254,075. And thats just in their non-"special" issues (that is, if you want your ad to be in color). I dont think thats the right target audience either.

Stephen once mentioned how high-end products advertise in home-design magazines which I thought was clever. Other possibilities could be trade magazines in industries where people make money, music magazines (that aren't expensive to advertise in), and of course Consumer electronic magazines.

bobedaone
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

Lower-volume, niche lifestyle magazines like Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator might be worthwhile, also.

Go where the money is and try to grab some!

Companies like Wilson and Sonus Faber might do well in Architectural Digest because they could sell the products as sculpture/furniture.

Really, though, the true high-end doesn't have the resources or the desire to put itself out there in a big way, and the lower-end is already moving product.

I think we overestimate the number of people who would care if we introduced them to better sound. The time of sitting and listening to music, and of welcoming hi-fi into one's home, has largely passed. It's not just that Bose moves product because they are a marketing machine, but that they sell precisely what customers are looking for, which is unobtrusiveness and ease of use. If you sell people exactly what they want, then convince them that it's also truly high-end, you've hooked them. It would take more convincing than is feasible for quality brands to win people over.

I agree with you, Ariel, that Bose would have to be attacked directly. Either that, or "cubes" must be referenced. There are some serious barriers, though. The industry would have to sell all of these points:

1. "We're better than Bose"
2. Superior enough to warrant square footage in your home
3. and be visible
4. More boxes are worth the trouble
5. So is getting in your car and driving somewhere to buy the stuff
6. There are probably more, but I'll stop.

Besides these, there is this: If people with some money to spend think that Bose is the best there is, and they can afford Bose, then they can afford "the best". If they discovered that "the best" might actually cost more than their homes, that's discouraging.

My point with Bose is that if you tell the public a story they want to believe, a lot of people will listen.

KBK
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

People ask me why one of my companies never advertises. One point, is that everyone knows who we are and what the product is!

Why waste money preaching to the pew, or the choir?

One must go to where those that need conversion are - not to the already converted. Largely a waste of money, IMHO.

But, as I stated earlier, doing so has it's benefits, in the long run. However, the indoctrination must be relentless...and complete. 3 to 5 years worth, minimum.

Ie, outside 'recent memory' function for the average person, to become a 'always been that way' situation, to become part of the background.

Governments and ..ahem..differing groups do this all the time, to 'create' history in the mind of the average man, who has such little capacity for attention - that they can barely remember what they ate for lunch.

Bose, for one, had and has the long green it takes to take advantage of that point in Western culture, society, and function. It works slightly differently in other countries and cultures, but is more or less the same.

Advertising must be unique and only works in short spurts. In the long run, the return is lesser, to say the least. The trick is learning when to let off advertising and coast for a while, how to alter the presentation, when to stop, when to renew the effort, when to try different venues, etc.

If one remembers the Alpine/Luxman blast of the 80's, one of their primary advertising dudes shared his insights with me when he passed through (as a rep), and I eagerly paid close attention to what he shared. He was chock full of hard earned advertising knowledge, that cost tons of cash to reach.

dbowker
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

"if you tell the public a story they want to believe, a lot of people will listen"

Perhaps therein lies the whole problem. Bose and a number of other companies have crafted products and brands that fit what the public think they want. Sure, MAYBE if they took a little time to think about it they MIGHT consider that smallness and convenience isn't the only thing they want, but not many want to rethink their assumptions. For Pete's sake, it's hard enough to get people to go out and vote for the next president, someone who will certainly have a major impact on their daily life ofr at least the next 4 years, if not longer. And yet, so many just skip it; as if it's all so less important than all the other things on their list for the day.

Changing someone's attitudes is a lot harder than just selling someone a different soft drink- they already have bought into buying it, but still companies spend millions to get someone to switch. It's that much harder to make someone want something new and more expensive.

MUDSHARK
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

I have seen Infinity adds in Money but I believe it was their car speakers. Funny how some people with pay 2K for a Bose sound system with the car but be unwilling to spend half of that for a better sounding Infinity system.

CharlyD
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m


Quote:
It's not just that Bose moves product because they are a marketing machine, but that they sell precisely what customers are looking for, which is unobtrusiveness and ease of use.


I think it's entirely likely that Bose marketing determined that customers were seeking audio systems that offerred convenience, were easy to use and integrated well with their lifestyles. Bose went on to develop and introduce products that address these needs ("precisely what the customers are looking for") to the market and have done quite well. Apple marketing saw the portable music player marketplace had similar preferences and launched the iPod that has radically altered the music marketplace and is a significant component of Apple's bottom line.

What I read in this thread is the feeling that hi-end audio offers a much better solution that the marketplace would find compelling if they were properly educated on the benefits of hi-end sound and would glady make the compromises necessary to their lifestyles to include these complex, multiple big-box systems in their homes. Fat chance. On the other hand, there is nothing about convenience and ease of integration into modern lifestyles that necessarily excludes hi-end sound. Many hi-end vendors have realized this opportunity and have introduced product addressing those needs. The B&W Zeppelin and the Krell KID are prime examples.

Hopefully the hi-end industry will continue to innovate to bring the same convenience and ease-of-use qualities to products targeting us audiophiles.

dbowker
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

Since your post I've been looking out for High-end audio ads in magazines and I've found a couple. In Dwell magazine (like Met Home but more architectural and a younger crowd- but still well heeled). In this last issue was a two-page spread by B&W speakers. They used the company name of Bowers & Wilkins, which I guess was to avoid confusion with BMW or B&O, and maybe they thought it just sounds a bit fancier? Also in the same issue was an add by Bang & Olufsen, which is more lifestyle than purist audio but a lot better than Bose for sound. So I guess there ARE a few trying to make inroads.

Sadly, in another article a writer expressed a little bemusement that one hipster couple still actually listened to CDs instead "of the more space saving mp3 server" and deemed to have them on display no less! If you read last weeks Stereophile poll you'll see that of those polled 70% still listen to LPs, and OFTEN! What would the poor writer have to say about that!?

UPDATE: Well, in the same magazine there was another article about a small yet modern swanky house and in the living room was not only a decent looking set of tower speakers (not sure brand) but what is unmistakably a Rega turntable on the cool looking wall mounted shelf system. I read once that when major manufacturers want to push an new line, even a new color trend, the first thing they do it get it placed in television shows. Time for some high-enders to get onto some shows I guess. Actually, anyone here who watched Friends will remember that Chandler and Joey had these pretty expensive Martin Logan speakers in their living room for years. To bad they never had music playing from them!

KBK
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Re: Why don't more audio manufacturers advertise in mainstream m

I've got a whole story about the audio systems in the film 'The Score', but that's only appropriate for the bar stories at the end of the day at an audio show.

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