The ‘Lifestyle’ Takeover in Audio
I had the opportunity to demo a high-performance home theater system for a mix of old and young banker types in their L.A. offices recently. Few of them had ever experienced a true high-performance audio demo, so it was cool to see the youthful exuberance and excitement on their faces as we ripped through several action movie and Blu-ray concert demos.
The whole encounter left me thinking about what audio demos have become in a retail setting.
The audio demo has shifted from giving someone the best possible audio experience, to now giving them the audio product or experience that best fits their lifestyle. And I’m not saying this is wrong. There is a huge demand that needs to be met, and it would be foolish to ignore it.
My issue is that traditional high-performance audio demos have all but been abandoned in most retail settings. Like lemmings, we chase the headphone, Bluetooth, wireless multi-room and in-wall audio dollars in an effort to accommodate our customers’ lifestyle demands without ever really selling them on a truly great audio experience. To me, this represents an opportunity.
I was driving to dinner with an executive who was at the previously mentioned office demo, and he was actually going through the process of a $35K technology upgrade to his home, which included four separate “home theaters.” He asked me to review the proposal and I was surprised to see only in-wall and in-ceiling speakers throughout the entire home. Not a single floorstanding or wall-mounted speaker that would provide the full home theater experience. I asked if he purposely chose all architectural speakers, and my jaw nearly dropped when he replied that it wasn’t even suggested he could get a better audio experience from different speakers.
When I was at MyerEmco, I always wanted our integration team to present the possibility of a single best viewing and listening experience in the home, in addition to all the lifestyle and application-driven solutions we would propose. It was a huge opportunity and created a single favorite entertainment room, which we would position as a unifying location in the house for shared family experiences. With the advent of Ultra HD/4K and new high-resolution audio formats, doesn’t this upside opportunity again exist?