B&O Remains in Custom Channel, Focuses on ‘Right Partners’ with ‘Desire to Scale’
Bang & Olufsen parts ways with most custom-integration dealers in North America, but re-ups with partners who are ‘really engaging with the brand’ to present a more consistent experience across all channels.
Bang & Olufsen wants to make it clear that the iconic audio and home-entertainment brand is not exiting the U.S. custom-installation channel. It just wants a little more control over the brand.
CE Pro reported in June that B&O was restructuring its custom operations here, bidding farewell to most of the 100-plus specialty A/V dealers enrolled since the B&O Pro program launched a couple of years ago.
Newly appointed PR and marketing manager Christopher Devine (formerly custum installation manager) tells CE Pro the company maintained about 20 percent of its Pro dealers who were “really engaging with the brand” had some type of retail or showroom presence, and demonstrated a "desire to scale."
These dealers now report to B&O’s retail group, led by Donny Perry in New York City, partly to ensure that the image presented by custom installers is consistent with that of B&O’s 13 U.S. retail outlets.
B&O Head of Retail
When it created B&O Pro in 2014, the company tapped non-traditional resellers who provide home technologies to well-heeled clientele – integrators who did not necessarily have storefronts or showrooms, and who might complete just a small number of projects each year.
The company so famous for controlling its brand relaxed many of the guidelines and principles traditionally adopted by B&O resellers.
“Initially, the strategy was to expand the distribution channel quickly,” Devine says.
Renewed Focus on Brand Equity
With a new CEO appointed in 2016, however, “our focus in recent years has been brand equity,” he explains. “We continue to zero in on our brand heritage, positioning ourselves as the most desired brand in the world, a true luxe brand.”
The company decided it could better ensure a “consistent experience” across all business channels by “better allocating resources internally and giving partners the time and attention they deserve to grow the brand,” Devine adds.
In a letter to partners in June, Perry wrote:
We regard this transition as an opportunity for growth. Going forward, we will be focusing all of our attention on partners who are fully aligned with our goal to be the most desired audio brand in the world. We are excited to continue working with partners who aspire to grow with our brand, create unique spaces within their showrooms, offer exceptional customer service, and expand within their markets.
B&O is still listed as an exhibitor for CEDIA 2018 in September, but the company is pulling out of the show.
“This is an opportunity to regroup,” he says, “and then going forward we will look at growth again, but in a more deliberate, strategic way.”
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at email@example.com
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