Unbrick and Loose Mortar?: Clarion to Exit from 12-Volt U.S. Retail Storefronts
Just like accounting firms back in the day known as The Big 6, there were The Big 6 aftermarket head unit manufacturers: Alpine, Clarion, Eclipse, Kenwood, Pioneer and Sony. Fast forward to today, and we have The Big 4. We know the story of Eclipse; the parent company Fujitsu Ten left the aftermarket arena in the U.S. and concentrated on more lucrative OEM contracts. Will the same fate be bestowed upon Clarion in the U.S.? In other markets, Clarion will still be sold at retail. But rather than leave the U.S. market completely, the company will sell through online channels – namely, Amazon, Crutchfield, and Sonic Electronics.
According to Clarion’s corporate vice president of marketing and product planning, Allen Gharapetian, “As companies in the retail space can tell you, for the last several years, sales have shifted heavily from brick-and-mortar retailers to online sites such as Amazon. The driving force behind that is the consumers themselves, who are looking for convenience, selection, and competitive pricing. In a move to align itself better with this trend, Clarion Corporation of America will now exclusively market its automotive aftermarket products through three of the leading online retailers, which include Amazon, Crutchfield and Sonic Electronix. Being able to focus exclusively on the aforementioned online retailers, the company believes it will be able to provide a better product selection, greater service, and more competitive pricing to consumers.” As for the current brick-and-mortar retailers, Clarion will continue to support them for up to 90 days based on each specific retailer’s needs.
What a strange outcome, as Clarion was heavily touting its new Digital FDS “Z” system that can certainly use the help of specialists to get the most out of tuning them. Although the manufacturer has partnered with Amazon, will that mean they will steer consumers to retailers through their “Amazon Home Services” (of course, it is still odd for Amazon to talk about ‘home services’ for your car) for tuning the Digital Z system?