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Home Theater Be-Backs

Furniture World Magazine


Why many customers browse... never to return.

You've talked with the customer several times helping him choose an audio and video entertainment center. This time he has brought his spouse who has come armed with a ruler and a tape measure. He explains to you that he is buying the piece to house a home theater system. They have come today to take some measurements for the electronic components they are now ready to purchase from the local electronics retailer before buying the cabinet. Does this sound familiar?

How many times have you heard this and noticed the customer never returned for the furniture? Once twice, three times, more? What happened? You're sure the customer really liked the piece and yet...

WHAT HAPPENED? The chances are, your customer didn't purchase the cabinet at another store. They probably didn't purchase a cabinet at all! But they did go to the local electronics retailer who convinced them that a home theater requires a projection television instead of the 32" or 35" they had planned to purchase or that the speakers they need won't fit the cabinet you showed them at all. So they buy the electronics and figure they'll deal with the cabinet later or not at all.

What are all of your customers so excited about? Home Theater is the "look, sound, and feel of the cinema in your customer's home. Today there are several types of surround sound decoders which are responsible for the Home Theater sound. In today's market, these decoders have become an integral part of the simple stereo receiver your customers typically purchased when they bought their last HiFi System. Many of your customers already have some of the electronic bits and pieces that can be assembled to create the 'Theater' experience. A clever retailer can ascertain what components customers already have and find what they still need to buy to assemble a cost effective home theater system. Remember, most consumers are keenly aware of the existence of home theater. The customer looking at an entertainment center can often be a home theater customer. As a matter of fact, at some time, the chances are they will have an interest in purchasing a home theater. If you simply sell them an electronics center today and they decide they would like to build a home theater tomorrow, you've left an opportunity behind. After all, they already own the entertainment center and some electronics. They will most likely not think of a furniture store for the large screen TV or speakers to put in the cabinet you sold them. This has to be proposed at the time the furniture is presented. The question is, can you afford to leave a possible sale to the electronics store down the street?

The popularity of the standard DOLBY surround system can be evidenced by the fact that it has enough flexibility for most applications while being very inexpensive. We have witnessed a significant increase in the interest for DOLBY Pro Logic during the past several years. This can be attributed to the wide use of these decoders being incorporated into even fairly inexpensive stereo receivers. AC3 being the newest format is still more costly and therefore of interest to fewer people. However as the cost of this format comes down, more interest will surface.

So you haven't sold stereo HiFi in the past and are now wondering why you would consider home theater as a major category? Aside from the fact that the customer is now taking their business to another retailer while you could be making the profit, consider this...

The home theater like many pieces you currently sell are focal points in your customers' homes. Unlike stereo music enjoyment, home theater is typically enjoyed as a shared family event. Furniture is often purchased and enjoyed by the entire family. This makes the home theater a natural extension of your core business... of products that can be used and enjoyed by the entire family.

In the next issue we'll discuss the various components necessary to assemble home theater systems.

SURROUND SOUND FORMATS: Home theater or Surround Sound utilizes several different decoder formats. However only three major formats are widely accepted.
  • The original and simplest format is DOLBY surround. This system consists of three discreet channels, these being stereo left and right front channels with a monaural rear (effect)channel.
  • The step up format is DOLBY Pro Logic. This system adds to the system an additional discreet center or dialog channel. This system is superior to standard DOLBY surround by keeping all of dialog centered at the screen location thus allowing for more flexibility in seating in the viewing area.
  • The newest format is known as AC3. In the AC3 format, you have much better front to rear effects since AC3 utilizes discreet rear left and right channels.