Today I got an email from my dealer referring to and commenting on a message he found on the Facebook page of the German High End Society. They organize the big, big High End Show in Münich:
Die 32. HIGH END® im MOC-München war mit 363 Ausstellern und ca. 900 Marken aus 35 Ländern wieder ein weltweiter Höhepunkt der gesamten Branche. Insgesamt 16.159 Besucher, davon 5.211 Fachbesucher aus 71 Ländern, waren nach München gekommen. Die Zahl der Fachbesucher ist im Vergleich zum letzten Jahr um 18% gestiegen. Mit 58% war die Quote der internationalen Besucher dabei erneut besonders hoch.
For those who don’t speak German: 363 exhibitors, around 900 brands, from 35 countries. 16.159 visitors, 5.211 professional visitors from 71 countries. 18% more than last year. While international visitors were 58% up.
My dealer comments: “I suppose this represents “the market” for both the “supplier” side as well as the “consumer” side. So 900 brands represent / touch / please 16.159 visitors … Each brand can make 17,95 customers … Sorry, mistake, 16.159 – 5.211 pro people = 10.948 consumers / 900 brands = 12,16 customers. In my mind these numbers should have been 161.590 consumers for 90 brands …”
I understand what my dealer thinks and it made me think in fact of the day long, long ago when I said “One day every consumer will have his own manufacturer”.
But anything more that is worrying about these figures? Well … 900 brands is a lot, but it still is only a part of all the brands currently made. I have no idea how many audio brands exist, but far more than were exposing in Münich. 10.948 non-professional visitors, assuming these all came from Germany, which is certainly not the case, means that 1,35 pro mille of the German population had enough interest to come to visit … What about the visitors? Most, if not all of them are already known with the material, the brands, the suppliers. A part of them will upgrade, replace, but it is also known that the main hobby of a part of the visitors is … visiting audio shows. How many potential new audio consumers have been visiting? We don’t know. Does anyone know? Does anyone have any idea how much direct and indirect costs have been made by 363 exhibitors for being there? For what and whom?
While writing this blog I received the High End Journal Newsletter. It is in English and you have read and download it here. It’s giving the same information as mentioned above and it sounds “glorious”. And it is true . As I said to a collegue: “If someone who doesn’t know about our industry would walk around here, he would certainly think that audio is the best business you can think of …”.
But what’s the reality if you look around? Do you get the idea this is the best business you can think of? More and more shops have hardly visitors (-clients). More and more shops are closing. Magazines are disappearing or getting thinner and thinner. More and more distribution companies are firing sales people who become too expensive in relation to the profitability of the company. Famous audio companies from the past which are becoming smaller or disappearing. Financial institutes are buying famous companies as they see opportunities for pumping up the (in their eyes) too low sales figures. These are not signs that our industry is in good shape.
On the other hand … many new small-scale companies come up and are successful enough to stay alive. There are still some dealers who have enough visitors to keep on going. In Store adds On Line and On Line expands with In Store. There are new webzines coming up. Etc. Etc. If all this is something to stay, especially in the time we live in, nobody can tell. But … let’s hope.
But … what is worrying ME and I guess a lot of other people in this industry, is that we are shooting always on that same group of customers which has already a lot of audio gear and of which we hope they keep on upgrading and updating their stuff. These are also the people who visit the numerous audio shows. And the all-time question is: how much money the industry spends on these shows to get how much sales in return … Aside from dealer shows I think all these shows are just Zoo-type of events.
So what we have is an industry which is loaded with talents that create new brands and new products, an industry which is serving a shrinking group of (older!) clients. During a time that the economy is suffering worldwide. So what do we need? We need more people that are willing to spend some money on good audio systems. The industry seems not to be able to recruit these new customers, so maybe the current experienced, enthusiastic group of audio consumers is able to spread the interest for better audio. The basic interest for music is there -see the number of people having earphones in-. The “only” thing to do is bring them to the next level up … Social networks are there and with a bit of guerilla-marketing we should be able to wake up some of those who don’t know yet how much fun a good audio system can bring! Let me come back on this after the weekend.
Click on the picture to read High-End Munich Newsletter