Sonos, the popular DIY wireless-audio brand, has joined a home-technology channel buying group for the first time ever. Azione Unlimited is the lucky group to win the affections of this evasive vendor, which — legend has it — always turned down buying groups in the past because of an unwillingness to relinquish additional margins.
For their part — again according to popular lore — the buying groups refused to welcome Sonos for its brand cachet alone. They demanded the same contributions of the DIY beast as every other vendor partner. Seems Sonos finally relented.
Azione represents roughly 200 dealers, with aggregate sales of more than $626 million per year. If the member makeup is anything like the population of CE Pro 100 dealers (2018), then roughly 76 percent of them already specify Sonos products.
“Joining Azione Unlimited is our first official association with a buying group within the CEDIA space,” says Andrew Vloyanetes, head of sales in a statement issued today. “It's an important first step for us.”
Sonos may be the one vendor in the home-technology channel that elicits just as much passion from its advocates as it does its detractors. While many dealers owe their survival to the product line, which saved more than a few of them during the housing crash a few years ago, many others thrash the company for its seemingly dismissive attitude towards the pro channel.
“They steal our customers,” say the aggrieved dealers. “They break our integrations.”
But when dealers say, “Sonos doesn't care about our channel,” they are flat-out wrong. The company still owes a good chunk of business to specialty A/V retailers and custom installers. They just don't do a very good job of showing it.
Sonos is 'Committed' to the Channel
All that is about to change if you believe Vloyanetes.
“We are committed to building stronger relationships with the channel and this is one more step in our commitment to the professional residential installer,” he says in the statement. “Sonos will be actively attending and participating in the Azione events, engaging with Azione dealers in new ways, and soliciting feedback from Azione partners throughout the year.”
For his part, Azione president Richard Glikes issued a subdued statement on the partnership, belying what must be complete and unmitigated glee for bagging this iconic brand.
“Not only are they one of the most sought-after brands,” he says, “they have the vision and resources the industry needs to support the ever-evolving audio category.”
There is no reason that every Azione dealer wouldn't relish this new relationship. It means better margin on Sonos product and presumably some sway in the direction of the company vis-a-vis the channel.
Not all Azione vendors, however, might share in the joy. On the one hand, the partnership could attract new dealers into the buying group — Glikes' ultimate goal is to have 250 dealers — but on the other hand Sonos competes with some of the 60 vendors in the group who have catered to the custom channel since forever. Those vendors might not be super-excited.