David B. Lorsch
I think the mood of the consumer is good. I have been on the road for 20-something days. It’s very interesting to meet people. [As far as CE consumers go], everybody is confused. There’s too much technology coming at them, and they don’t know the right things. All they want is the device to work.
I think you have a hybrid scenario that we haven’t yet resolved. The custom installer is unwilling to sell the consumer the mainstream goods that a Best Buy or a Circuit City will sell where there’s demand. Follow the money. Circuit City and Best Buy know what’s selling, but the custom installer is still trying to find esoteric, protected brands in order to protect his margin. Meanwhile, the consumer is confused. They just want surround sound, high-definition TV or their iPods to work. They’re either getting it from the custom installation side with service that’s possibly too complex and very expensive, or mass retailers. There’s a lot of product dissatisfaction because the consumer took a box home and doesn’t know how to work it. This stuff is not plug-and-play right now. HDMI is a disaster.
I’ve seen too many people turn away business because they couldn’t make a profit. By turning the customer away, they run the risk of a customer not coming back. If your customer wants things, get it for them—even if you can’t make money. Get it and make them your customer.