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ProSource/PRO Group Audio Ambassadors Collaborate with Asian Suppliers

More margins, better branding, clearer communications part of ongoing discussion

January 30, 2013 By Nancy Klosek
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It’s no secret that the margin squeeze on under-60-inch panels keeps getting tighter, so with no letup in sight independent dealers are raising their bets on audio to boost bottom lines.

Heavy marketing and smart management - along with a resurgence of consumer interest in many things audio – certainly helped the category shine last year. But maintaining that momentum will take fresh cycles of innovative new categories and updated traditional products in tune with the changing needs of consumers.

That was the reason the ProSource organization, which includes dealers of the PRO Group and Brand Source’s Home Entertainment Source (HES) buying groups, recently toured factories and R&D centers of select suppliers. The trip included visits to D+M, Harman, Onkyo/Integra and Sharp.

“There are audio ecosystems that weren’t available three or four years ago, and we want to make sure we’re at the forefront of launching those products and helping to steer our members into this new world as digital audio matures,” said Jim Ristow, executive vice president of HES.

The group usually alternates yearly visits to Asia between video and audio vendors, but will probably add more visits to audio suppliers. Considering that audio was up double digits for ProSource dealers last year, the move makes sense.

“We believe we’re going to continue that trajectory as more opportunities come, and we’re partnering even more closely with our vendors to maximize them,” Ristow said. “We’re very bullish on audio, control and automation as well as on Ultra HD and OLED; any of the premier panels.  We’ll continue to do a great job indexing high ASPs in video. That’s very important. But we’re also going to continue to focus on audio.”

     Ristow referred mainly to ‘new audio,’ such as premier soundbars, headphones and wireless whole-house solutions. But that also includes products with striking design elements that contrast with the traditional AV receiver, whose functionality has morphed dramatically but whose looks haven't changed much since the Reagan years.

 “The audio system is clearly changing, and so is how people are developing that system for the home,” said David Workman, president/CEO of ProSource and president/COO of PRO Group. “It’s no secret that the legacy categories such as receivers are in a gradual decline, being replaced by these other technologies because of how people interface audio with their Internet experience. We wanted to understand manufacturers’ roadmaps with regard to that, and what role we play.”  



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