As audiophile I’m acutely aware that audio retailers are the crucial link for high end audio to succeed. Unfortunately it’s becoming increasingly difficult to audition high end audio equipment in all but the largest metropolitan areas. So I’m profoundly confused why audio retailers are not aggressively trying to convert perspective clients to the audiophile ranks. The audio industry appears to be transfixed on a small group of older males with financial assets, trying to get them to continually upgrade their audio equipment. While this approach does sell some very expensive audio equipment, an increasing and alarming number of high end manufacturers and retailers are going out of business. I’m confounded why a different business model is not being used.
The current business model has long been contributing to a serious contraction of the high end audio business rather than growing it. A new business model is sorely needed to attract new customers. Its unlikely students pre-occupied with portable and cheap low resolution music or people trying to establish careers and families can be converted. But there’s a significant potential audiophile customer base (35 to 50 years old) who have the financial means and have begun focusing more on themselves by that age.
Many in this age group have never truly been exposed to high end audio having been seduced by low resolution consumer electronics, price and portability. Audio retailers should begin targeting this age group via advertising and direct mail, inviting them to experience high end audio - at an acceptable price point! Many will become converts once they hear for themselves how awesome well recorded music can sound. But an affordable audio system would have to be assembled with a wow factor that would seriously impress perspective customers responding to this offer. Sound is paramount and price is critical in this business model, a complete audio system (speakers, amplification, digital or analog source, rack incorporating energy control, synergistic cabling, power conditioning, and room acoustics), costing roughly $10,000 or less that provides the listener with credible coherence, articulation, imaging, and dynamic range.
Not a “consumer electronics retailer” type of business model, but rather experienced and knowledgeable audio retailers that emphasize component synergy, system setup & tuning, and provide a good listening environment and experience. Audio retailers that can straightforwardly demonstrate to people what defines a good audio system, and are willing to provide follow-up service to ensure customer systems are setup properly. Audio retailers prepared to provide service beyond the sale and mentor prospective clients at all price points. A good percentage of people receiving this kind of treatment will become repeat customers.
This business model would change the focus from targeting a small group of audiophiles at high price points, to building a much larger customer base highlighting good audio starting at a price competitive with a consumer electronics video system. It would also reestablish two channel stereo as the primary system objective to contain cost, and emphasize music. This business model has the capability to grow high end audio.