Perhaps Paulie and Tony “Duke” Evers had it correct in Rocky IV.
Sometimes, when you have too many moving targets in front of you – the best strategy might be to hit the one in the middle.
High-end audio has battled through that for a few decades.
The inability to convert a new core generation of audio enthusiasts; both male and female who are emotionally connected to their music collections but completely turned off by the perceived price of admission to join the high-end club.
It is easy to point fingers at manufacturers who charge $3,000 for cables, or $20,000 for loudspeakers, but the reality is that they wouldn’t make such products if there wasn’t a customer out there willing to buy them.
The problem is that they are selling to the same customer. All of them.
And that customer base isn’t getting any younger. Or larger.
The high-end press doesn’t get a pass here either.
While there has been positive change over the past few years thanks to the growing influence of YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, the reality is that the press is still too focused on the portion of the industry that has zero chance of growing the base.
How do I know this?
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been busy having Zoom calls with an interesting mix of people who have developed very large networks of followers across social media platforms with a focus on vinyl, personal audio, and used/vintage audio.
All of them shared a few things in common which they expressed with a sincere degree of frustration.
Their audience loves music but has almost no idea what to buy and is completely turned off by the “insane” prices at the top of the audio pyramid and the lack of quality on the ground floor.
Their audience reads hardware reviews but walks away without any real understanding of how to assemble a system.
One (with close to 15,000 followers on her Instagram vinyl page) started laughing when we said you could spend over $1,000 on an Ethernet cable.
She replied, “that is just dumb.”
The audio industry needs to become more inclusive and stop paying lip service to women and the 25-45 age segment who want to spend between $5,000 – $10,000 on a complete system.
That ceiling can be expanded but retailers need to ask themselves a simple question.
Do they want 100 new customers in 2021 who will spend in that range for the very first time and upgrade slowly over time or do they want the same old customers who will upgrade a solitary component after a favorable review?
Some will get that answer wrong.
The middle is where we are going to succeed with this group.
Hit the one in the middle.
Offer customers quality products from the middle. Because the quality is there and that’s what they can afford to spend.
If I am wrong – then why did Sonus faber introduce the excellent Lumina I loudspeakers?
Why does ELAC sell a lot of loudspeakers in this range?
Schiit Audio, iFi Audio, Rega, Wharfedale, Pro-Ject, Bluesound, NAD, Magnepan, Q Acoustics, PSB, Polk Audio, Quad, Cambridge Audio, Klipsch, Heed, Decware, Omega, and many others offer excellent sounding products that fit into this system range.
Our focus when it comes to high-end audio is going to shift. We’re thrilled that all of these creative and forward thinking people have decided to join us. It will be a refreshing change to have younger voices (both male and female) who care more about the music than equipment help us reshape the message.
They care about better sound quality because it allows them to connect even more with the music that they love.
It’s how they built their impressive networks of followers.
They have built communities that are welcoming and inclusive.
These people are not stupid or ignorant. Ignoring them is financial suicide.
There’s no shortage of magazines who want to focus on the top and the same repeat customers.
Have fun guys.
The future is in the middle.