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Monsterize The Industry!

January 2004
After 25 Years Monster Cable Re-Injects Romance into A/V Sales

By Ron Goldberg

It's no secret that Monster Cable deserves credit for basically inventing an entire product category. Most of today's consumers can't remember the days when they'd have to buy a spool of zip cord along with their speakers, or when it was the manufacturer's responsibility to supply all the interconnects for a new receiver. Now in its silver anniversary year of business, the company intends to take its mantra of brand value and dedicated sales training and extend it to the next level, which in the mind of Head Monster Noel Lee, encompasses nothing less than the audio industry itself.

It's also no secret that audio sales are having a hard time keeping up with video sales, particularly at a time when video may be the biggest part of the customer's budget, but it's hardly the retailer's most profitable sale. For Lee, as well as many others in the business, the question is whether audio sales dollars can keep up with video, proportionally speaking. Quoth the Monster: "If you can't sell audio, you're dead. There's no profitability in video; it's becoming commoditized."

To that end, Monster has embarked upon an aggressive push into the new "lifestyle" orientation of today's home entertainment products. The initiative consists of several new product lines that include amplifiers, speakers and A/V furniture, which are supplemented in the field by a program called Monster Reference Home Theater Music Experience—"MR. HiTME" for short. As with Monster's highly successful M4 program, the new direction stresses the importance of attachment-selling. Conceptually, the program is pushing the sales envelope in a very provocative direction, which basically frames audio itself as an attachment sale.

Lee's thinking is that people will pay for products that integrate easily into their homes, and that increasingly, this is becoming the focus of consumer expectation. Says Lee, "That's why they'll pay more money for a plasma screen than for an RPTV that's bigger, has a better picture and costs less." If livability is now the selling point for many consumers, then the traditional methods of selling audio—based on sound quality and features—become increasingly secondary to the customer. Even in this environment, Lee believes that you can still sell high-quality audio to customers. You've just got to do it differently than the industry is used to doing it.

To Lee, the same "push marketing" can be extended to audio systems and accessory components. "Today's problem is not the technology or the customers, but the salespeople," he says. Lee believes that the ease of selling video has diluted the sales skills that are necessary in order to successfully sell audio. "When you used to sell audio, you used to ask about musical tastes, about room size—you'd qualify the customer. You lose all that in video." Monster's Mr. HiTME program hopes to apply the same kind of romance toward audio components that the company has successfully applied to its core cable products.

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