I recently talked with Paul Bochner, owner of Electronic Concepts Luxury Design Center in Rochelle Park, NJ about his newly finished performance audio demo spaces, his success in marketing luxury audio, and his vision of how performance audio can reclaim the ‘glory of the demo’. Part 2. (Part 1 here)
MJ: Walk us through a typical demo session for a performance audio buyer. How do you approach it and how do you anticipate the needs of your customer?
PB: Performance audio customers are a very special breed. They typically know what they want when they come into the store and that opens the door to ask a lot of questions. What is your current system? What have you liked and disliked in the past? What kind of music do they listen to? Let them drive the conversation, really listen and inject your knowledge where you can so you can understand what their preferences might be.
MJ: Do you think there is going to be a renaissance of the performance audio/Hi-Fi dealer?
PB: I think we are losing our audience which tends to be an older demographic and the younger generation isn’t being exposed enough to performance audio.
How do we reach them? Through education and exposure with social media and this is a call to action! The next generation are not walking into record stores to hear their favorite song. The data shows that Gen Y is spending money. They do care about quality, but they need to see/feel/hear this stuff and that is getting harder to do in-person.
We use our Instagram and YouTube channels to target these potential buyers with content that is targeted to people based on their age, geographic locations and interests. The new generation of buyers is spending their money based on social credibility and what they see on their mobile devices, instead of just an in-person experience.
Now we are seeing more leads and messages coming to us from people who saw our videos or ads on social platforms. They are not going to the yellow pages LOL, do those still exist? If we, as representatives of the audio industry (vendors, dealers, etc.) do not focus on using social media to broaden our exposure and introduce fresh content, the vehicle for content and exposure, we are going to lose an entire generation of buyers and lovers of quality audio. That’s sad.
MJ: To build on that, in your opinion, why have higher-end audio dealers been in decline in recent years?
PB: Audio only dealers need to expand their offerings to include custom install integration, this is where I think the big issue lies. You can’t sell performance audio only and not cater to a client’s larger technology needs, that’s a missed opportunity.
MJ: In contrast to that, how are you approaching the market differently to combat the recent declines and stand out against the classic competition?
PB: In one word: Education. The next wave of consumer responds to visual and audible exposure. It’s highly likely that all they know about audio comes from a Wi-Fi speaker and junky earbuds.
Our job as integrators is to educate, demo and show how cool gear can be. The best day I had last year was when two twenty-four year olds came into the store to listen to some Pink Floyd on our best system. They didn’t have any money and that’s OK because I spent two hours with them just enjoying the moment and used it as a chance to educate them top to bottom. It was so much fun, and it made my day.
MJ: Do you have any advice for younger audio enthusiasts who one day want to walk into your store and buy some of the amazing equipment you sell?
PB: Listen to it all with an open mind. Ask for help. I do all the time. I try to connect with the generation before me as much as I can and absorb what they have to say like a sponge. Some of the guys working for the speaker/amp companies have been around and really know what they are doing. I’m still learning and growing every time I see some of them. We all have different preferences. Find what gives you the most emotional response, that’s how I choose my systems. The more I feel, the better it is in most cases.
MJ: Conversely, do you have any advice for performance audio/Hi-Fi dealers looking to reinvigorate their business and attract a younger audience?
PB: Understand that they do not have the passion yet, 20 years ago the experience was very different. Don’t be snobby audiophiles. If you don’t stop for a minute to help educate and put this awesome gear out in the world, this part of the industry will NOT last. Social media matters, education matters. I fully embrace this and will continue to fight the fight to keep performance audio relevant with new and old customers. Show off your gear and your knowledge. We will share it!