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CEDIA & Consumer A/V: The Minority Report

by September 19, 2011
Audioholics Banner at CEDIA 2011

Audioholics Banner at CEDIA 2011

This year, like many others, the Audioholics Team embarked on its trail to CEDIA at Indianapolis. More ready than ever, yours truly, decided that this year it would be slightly different. The focus of my CE research and technology would make a drift towards usefulness and practicality, but never excluding the high fidelity arena. Not many women could say this, or so the populous says.

On the contraire, they are wrong. According to research studies conducted by several companies, such as Sony, Apple, Nintendo, McIntosh, Pioneer and many others among the Consumer Electronics Market, 50-63% of women have the final say and power for purchase, but for some reason they are not engaged like men in consumer electronics. One of the top 10 sales reps in the second largest Sony selling store in the country, Ms. Molly Gibson, focused on women in the CE world and the percentage of their purchases.  Her data also showed 63% of women have the final input in consumer electronics purchases.. She used this information and made Sony’s sales sky rocket and influenced a new marketing strategy targeted to women and men alike.

See: http://www.sixty3percent.com/

This new trend is picking up fast and it showed at CEDIA. Not only products have changed, but the companies’ infrastructures have as well. Noticeable was the change in their marketing, PR and Sales personnel. Female members have joined the industry and bring with them a new perspective on selling CE products. . Women in general are the spenders. They are always blamed by their spouse of “spending too much, “and on things they don’t need. Precisely so, this is the exact thing that CE marketing campaigns are taking advantage off.  How do you sell something you don’t need or necessarily want, but you must have it? How do we create desire for technical products?  A meeting with Linda Passaro, VP of Sales & Marketing for McIntosh gave us a wonderful idea of how this is accomplished, especially in the CE Pro arena. She comes from a luxury brand background in watches and diamonds and sees this market at a “rough diamond” that needs to be properly “cut” and “packaged” and “presented” to the buyer in a more emotional fashion that makes it hard to walk away. How does she do it? Presenting the behind the scenes craftsmanship and educating women about the products is the foundation that leads to building appreciation and sales. If women can understand how to use it, in their own terms, and what the product does for her lifestyle with her family and her friends, like entertaining in her home, she will want it and   will buy it. Women are more sensory and care very much about aesthetics so keep in mind design and presentation does matter. Women can appreciate lasting value and are willing to spend more for quality products in fashion and jewelry. Women, like men, always want to get the best deal for quality products.  That’s why the eye appeal is also a main focus on these companies.

At CEDIA, this new look took place without compromising the fidelity and appeal to men. Items such as sounds bars, designer look outdoor speakers, hidden TV Screen that can fit anywhere or disappear with the touch of a button, were a fresh novelty to explore. Home Theater furniture with new designer and sleek looks joined the innovative home integration panels that are easier and visually appealing.. As a woman, I was beyond interested and amazed of how good these items looked and sounded.

Personally, two of the best showcased products at CEDIA 2011, in my eyes, where the new H-PAS PowerBar 235 from Atlantic Technology and the Sharp/Pioneer Elite PRO-X5FD Series LED TV.  The Power Bar elicited a sound that made you forget that no subwoofer was linked to it, all tweeters and small woofers in a proprietary enclosure were producing sound that bellied its physical presence. However, keeping it a manly appealed product, it did have an output to add a separate subwoofer for those wanting deeper and louder bass output. For us ladies, the sleek and smaller look and the capability of this product to either be mounted or simply placed on top of a desk was eye catching. Even more catchy was the price; a product in this league would usually cost around $900-$1000 but its true price was way lower, more around the $600-$700. The Atlantic Technology Soundbar was like a piece of art and furniture all in one with a sound that made you forget where you were and what you were listening to.  Even better, it has the capability to perform in either 3.1 or 5.1. What does this mean? You can add a feel of more speakers around you with each one allowing for further detailing of the sounds and differentiation of each. For example, you can distinctly discern a bird chirping from the sound of wind and leaves rustling against it.  Simply put, real sound while saving lots of space.

Pioneer Elite, (in conjunction with Sharp), previewed their new LED TV, which I must say really impressed me. Prior to the demo, I mistakenly thought the TV set was turned off the whole time.  It look as dark as it could be. The only thing that made you realize it was on was the blue light indicator on the front panel. The quality of the display light functions (sharpness and brightness) was the best I’ve seen so far. The black levels remained truly black and crisp, especially when they showed their films on it. Beautiful fireworks and landscapes, it really looked like you were there watching it all. The color crispness and details were exemplary, and it almost made you feel like you could touch the dew on the flowers.  This was definitely something I would purchase, especially for the price. Guessing it would be too pricey to purchase, we were wrong.  That made it even more appealing since products in this category usually range at about $10k, but it retails for about half that price and comes with FREE human tech support.

Suera TVBut this in not yet over, CEDIA this year had a special change to their Future Pavilion. This year their focus not only appealed to women, but a more general Lifestyles approach took place. What do we mean by Lifestyles? Well a brief overview of this approach is needed. Noting the changes in consumer’s trends and wants, the CE market realized that their potential buyers wanted to improve not only the CE products, but their health, environment, well being, family life and their pockets. New technology arose that targets these needs. There are many families, not only women, which are concerned with the change in the economy, climate change and family quality life as a whole due to our busy lifestyles. Having a product that can travel with you and accommodate your “instant needs” is always a plus and a main reason for wanting to own it, especially if it doesn’t break your wallet. For example, not many of us get a chance to relax as much as we would like, especially those single parents, or the stay at home spouse. No matter what we do, we need that extra time to unwind. Seeing this need, Séura, a TV illumination company, who actually makes their products in the U.S., specializes in enhanced vanishing television sets. They have bridge the gap between elegance and technology. They want luxurious, relaxing and entertainment driven spaces to attract the everyday consumer.  Their Lumination Collection lighted mirror series was debuted at CEDIA and it attracted lots of attention. Personally, the ambience of the LED lights with variable design options made you want to jump in a nice warm bubble bath while sipping a glass of  Champagne, watching your favorite movie or TV Show right on it. It offers a TV screen capability of 10” – 19” LCD depending on the product design.  Nothing better than a romantic and relaxing setting in a feel of true tranquility and peaceful ambience; even better, the price tag is not a killer with a range of $3500- $5400 depending on the design product or if the purchaser decides to go all out and customize.  Check out Suera.com for more info on their product offerings.

Several experiences took place in CEDIA this year that made you feel different. A happy glow prevailed with many exhibitors and attendees that were lacking in the previous years since the recession.  A new boom and surge of technology targeted not only women but families as a whole in the new Lifestyles approach. The products mentioned were just a few that showed innovation, customization and appeal that was not available until recently. The Green Foot print is one that had an increased feature in the Future Pavilion and the show overall. Hoping to help the consumer and attract more public, CEDIA certainly had it all.  It was the place to be.