Is custom install missing the boat with “Connected SOURCE”?


OPINION: So where does a consumer go to really get help with difficult home technology challenges, especially those that are not easily solved by trying to do-it-yourself? That’s what the Best Buy Magnolia Hi-Fi & Geek Squad store-within-a-store concepts were designed to address. Well, now the custom install community is introducing its own nationwide branded concept, but this time it’s is a store-within-their-showrooms called “Connected SOURCE.”

Described as “Sort of like True Value” as noted in Julie Jacobsen’s CE Pro article of February 23 [here], the Connected SOURCE concept seems like an idea whose time has come. Except that, in my humble opinion, the Connected SOURCE concept is completely missing the boat.

 

Categories for Connected SOURCE merchandising

© Connected SOURCE 2011

Each Connected SOURCE location will be merchandised exactly alike with seven zones: 1) 3D Theater, 2) DNLA/Skype, Internet, 3) iPTV/Movie Library, 4) Personal Audio & Headphones, 5) Home Networking, 6) Whole Home Control, and 7) Home Theater Control. Hey, but haven’t we heard a lot from custom installers in the past two years that their businesses are hurting selling the same ol’ same ol’? Is special merchandising and branding for 3D TV, home control or home theater control really going to make that big of a difference?

Where is the aspirational vision to tackle a huge and growing market with new solutions to problems people are encountering for the first times in their lives? You know, the kind of forward-looking vision that Magnolia and Geek Squad had over ten years ago that caused them both to be acquired by Best Buy. If Connected SOURCE is now selling headphones because they are cool again, or new TVs because everything people watch now goes “booga booga,” that doesn’t sound like a big plan for the future. If you ask me, it’s more of the same ol’ same ol’ and barely catches up with Big Box Custom, never mind surpassing them.

Here are seven statistics I found that any business these days will find interesting:
a) The 35 million Americans 65+ in 2000 doubles to 70 million in 2030
b) 25% of working Americans juggle their jobs vs. caring for a loved one.
c) 50% of caregivers are responsible for parent care while also parenting their own
d) 20% of family members actually quit working to provide care
e) 90% of focus group participants conducted by a prominent industry organization were willing to pay $50/mo. for services and technologies to stay independent and in their own home
f) 78 million Americans over age 50 controlled 67% of the country’s wealth in 2001
g) In the time you took to read this so far, 17 more people turned 50 years old, that’s 10,000 more every day!

Maybe putting bluetooth-enabled healthy-weight scales and blood-pressure cuffs next to iPads and Beats headphones isn’t really the solution for Connected SOURCE. But if not them, then who? Other retailers and industry leaders are already moving on this opportunity right now. But they don’t have the expertise like the custom install industry does. I hate to see new entrants struggle to create everything new as much as I hate to see the custom install industry completely missing this boat.

Hey, but that’s my two cents. I’m actually happy to see any collaboration towards collective branding and merchandising to help the industry connect with consumers. When you’re ready to go after a really huge market, give us a call.

Peter Radsliff
Board Chairman, Aging Technology Alliance [site]
President & CEO, Presto Services Inc. [site]

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About AgeTek.org

We are the Aging Technology Alliance (AgeTek for short, online at AgeTek.org), a not-for-profit corporation who goal is to promote the awareness, benefits, and value of member products and services for our aging society.
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