Today we received some information about the High End Münich Show 2012. More exhibitors, more media press, more professional trade visitors. Total visitors around 15,000.
Growing numbers always sound nice. But … may I say “but” … How about the interest of the German consumers and dealers … Anyone having visited Münich will confirm the set up of the show is fantastic. Such a show for a local market should attract so many (more) consumers, dealers (at least that is what I feel) if the real interest and buying power is HIGH.
If I look at the figures given, I see 1/3of the visitors being professional, which means 2/3 being consumer. Personally I feel that is far too low. I know that Germany has many “weekend” shows, so people are maybe already well informed. I know the cost of travelling has gone up dramatically and Münich is far, at least it is not central in Germany. Or can we conclude the consumer is “show-tired”?
Or is the cost of all these beauties becoming too high under current economical circumstances? I know a lot of things are changing. The number of audio magazines for example. There is so much information available on the internet that reading magazines is suffering, and there are more and more countries without audio magazines. Maybe those who read here have suggestions to share how to make a hifi show different, new, exciting, attractive. Attractive to a larger consumer public. I think any idea is welcome for an industry which deserves to survive. If only for the pleasure of music and life.
I think this is only your idea and opinion and are maybe not the real facts. As you know I’am writing for one of the biggest audio magazines in the Netherlands and the edition numbers are despite the recession still growing. So there is still a growing interest. I think the point is that people are not really information tired, but that there are worldwide way to many reviews with nearly useless information and too much marketing hype and talk. Reviewers but also manufactures and distributers must take their responsibility to permit real critics on their products. In other words, the credibility must be up.
Your second point is that I think just like your suggestion that prices for most hifi shows are to high. Why pay so much for the advertising of a brand? The way to approach people must be just different as we can see in the increasing success of the free Dutch audio shows.
Of course this is my idea, my opinion. But not ONLY MY idea or opinion!
I don’t think the growing interest for audio can be measured by the number of readers of a magazine. And if it was, I can assure you that worldwide the number of readers (of any magazine, also non-audio) is NOT growing, so … Credibility of reviews is always questionable as the reviewer is listening with HIS ears, HIS preferences, under HIS circumstances. The only review that is true after a long enough period of listening and use, is the review of the owner. And still in that case we have to say … for HIS ears, HIS preference, HIS circumstances. Maybe a future owner of a product just needs to know if a product is technically correct and instead of reading about it, he should visit some shops to see, feel, hear the products he is attracted to and make a choice for further investigation at the dealer’s place and eventually at his home. Although I immediately add that it becomes more and more difficult to realise that. Less dealers often means larger distance between client and dealer. If the dealer is smart he does not give the equipment on loan as he won’t know how HIS equipment is used during the trial period. And we all know that chances are higher for a wrong use … Audio and audio set up is a real profession! And ok, the opinion of a reviewer can help. As much as it can confuse :-).
But a FACT is that in more and more countries, audio magazines DISAPPEAR. Check it out yourselves in Russia, Italy, France, Spain … and maybe also BeNeLux? Of course I hope to see that you are right, but I doubt, certainly for the future …
Your second reaction on what I called “beauties” is a misunderstanding. I meant that maybe for the people in general the prices for quality audio are going up too high. I mean, it is nice to have interest in certain products, but if you want one, you have to be able to pay it too. And nowadays there are far more items to be paid than in the early years of high end audio. Now we have so many more interests we have to pay for and may more goodies we cannot live without.
But you mention the too high prices for hifi shows. I do not understand exactly what you mean. Are you telling that distributors or manufacturers have to pay too much to be part of a show? Or that visitors have to pay too much? Please explain.
Herman van den Dungen
About the credibility, in my daily practice their are too many distributors who think any constructive criticism on their padded products is a bad thing and also bad for their selling. I think through personally experience and the reactions of many consumers and readers, that the opposite is often the case. By too many colored testing, readers turn off of news media so these are losing their credibility in a furious pace. I think it is possible to do something by a changing attitude.
The problem about dealers is not alone their falling number and the distance for a consumer to travel to it, but also their shockingly diminishing skills! This has a large number of reasons as cause but I think, go too far for the scope of this article. But it is something to ponder. Why traveling a lot for a specific dealer when the quality of information is nearly the same as by an discounter? To break this circle is according to me better advice and more expertise.
No Herman, my second reaction is about the for these days sometimes excessively high admission prices to visit an audio show. There are so many interest areas today that I think it’s a much better idea by not asking entrance prices anymore. You can see these trend or rethinking also more often in other classes or forms of leisure.
The value of a reviewer and its reviews depends on many different things. Skills, understanding, language, location etc. The same review written in English in USA, has much more influence than the same review written in Holland. The USA review can be used all over the world, the Dutch review only in Holland. Easy to understand which review is the most important to the manufacturer, the distributor, the dealer.
Of course there are different kind of dealers. Like different kind of manufacturers, distributors, dealers, reviewers. And everybody has to make his choice (consumers included) which way to go. You mention the “discounter”. Let me just react that a discounter only can exist AFTER a market has been build up by the established trade (otherwise there is little or nothing to discount …). All parties mentioned are in it for the money, reviewers included – or do you write for free? So it is quite understandable that manufacturers, distributors, dealers are very careful with giving products to reviewers. Why invest in a product, give the product to a reviewer, if there is a risk to sell less or nothing if the reviewer comes up with a review or remark in a review that causes that. I know you don’t like my statement, but I (and a lot of other distributors, dealers) am looking at a huge investment (millions) and why run unnecessary risks? Besides the fact that positive influence on sales by a local review are minor anyway, while negative influence can be “killing”. So most in this business rely on the exisiting foreign reviews.
Last but not least: if these national shows ask NO ENTRY it means the cost for the manufacturers, distributors will be even higher … Even more to pay per person to see them “again” … year, after year, after year. No Werner that is not a solution. Not that I know what the solution is, but what is important is, is to get consumers buying, so they have to visit the shops. Unless you start selling on these shows of course. It is the same situation as in the worldwide economical situation. We are in a capitalistic (if you like it or not) system and the only solution to get things “moving” is “cosuming”. Not “looking” at audio on a show. Personally I think such a hifi show can be far more interesting if it is combined with a “Platenbeurs” and maybe a secondhand audio show. Now it is per visitor a too high investment for the trade and if you think about the cost per buyer derived form such a show, you might start crying … So, I doubt if free admittance is a good idea …
Back to work …
Herman van den Dungen
I still think this is the best highend audio show on earth:
I only know a limited number of shows, but this one is certainly very impressive. It deserves 100,000 consumers instead of 10,000 (only — for such a big country with so many countries around …). That would justify the energy and money spent!
If you want 100 000 try football instead…In Portugal we manufacture very highend players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and others…It is interesting that these guys who could afford to buy highend audio use iPods…
Correct! Next question is WHY??? All these guys go out with nice music, have cars with nice music, etc etc. If you have so much money, why be such an idiot not to enjoy nice music at home too? Who can tell?