CEMA Sets First Audio Summit for May 29-31, 1998

Responding to continued softness in the audio market, the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) has finalized plans to hold its first annual Audio Industry Summit at the Westin Hotel O'Hare in Chicago, Illinois, May 29-31. CEMA audio company members will congregate in an effort to formulate strategies they believe will lead the category back to long-term prosperity and growth.

"For a long time we've been hoping that home audio products would break out of the slump they've been in. Now it's time to move beyond hope to action," stated Joe Richter, president of Kenwood USA Corp. and chairman of CEMA's Audio Division. "We have put together an extraordinary panel of speakers that will help every attendee focus on the critical marketing elements of our industry that need to be emphasized and re-energized. Audio has been a part of people's lives for so long that they tend to take it for granted. We need to remind them how important sound is to the entertainment experience. This summit will bring together the industry in a forum designed to open a dialog that will help develop new strategies for the entire industry."

Since peaking in 1995, the home audio industry has experienced a two-year decline in sales. However, at the same time, the music industry has experienced flat sales and appears to have shaken off a general sales down-turn.

"People no longer listen to music like they use to. Lifestyles have changed," commented Gary Shapiro, CEMA president. "Audio is competing not only for consumers' dollars but for their time. The audio industry needs new marketing strategies to re-ignite consumer interest. This Summit features four top marketing experts to help the industry discover new product vigor."

Leading the host of speakers at the Summit, Dr. Philip Kotler of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University will share his strategic marketing vision for home audio. Gary Wright, a retail management and marketing consultant, will give an overview of current retail trends and forecast the retail landscape of the future. Neil Rackham of Huthwaite Inc. will discuss "why bad things happen to good new products." Closing the Summit, Bill Mathies of Polk Verity will present recent findings from a detailed consumer research survey commissioned by CEMA.

Attendees can register for the Summit by contacting Kerry Moyer of CEMA Member Relations at tel. 703-907-7694, fax 703-907-7601, or e-mail kerrym@eia.org. Registration is open only to executives from audio-equipment manufacturers. Attendee registration costs $150 and includes all session materials and meals. Registration ends May 15.