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New Sonos Offer Might Rub Dealers the Wrong Way

Company offers a discount that is easier to get without going through the dealer.

Sonos launched a new program this week called the “Sonos New Owner Offer.” I know that because they sent me an email on March 5 with the details. In brief, Sonos is reaching out to customers (your customers) who haven’t purchased another Sonos player within 90 days of their initial account setup. Their email clarifies a small subset of total customers will receive this email, but they reserve the right to activate the program on a quarterly basis. It makes me wonder who will be receiving this initial email? While Sonos emailing our customers directly is nothing new, offering them 20 percent off directly through an email promotion while circumventing the dealer certainly is.

I’ve given this program a lot of thought and struggled with why it bothers me. After marinating for a few days, my perspective looks something like this: “We at Sonos appreciate the efforts you took to bring the client to us, and now we’d like to profit from your hard work.”

I’d be all for Sonos directly marketing to our clients, providing them an affiliate link (similar to a program Amazon has had for 20 years) and putting the profit we would’ve made on the sale into our dealer account as a credit. Instead, Sonos is emailing our customers while at the same time telling us we can offer the same 20 percent discount. How is that supposed to work? Email customers twice and confuse them?

Furthermore, the Sonos 20 percent redemption path for their own website and authorized retailers is far from equitable. If one of our customers clicks a link from Sonos and buys directly on the Sonos website, Sonos gives them their discount right then and there at checkout. On the other hand, if our customer wants to take advantage of the promotion with us, they need to visit a website called and go through the normal gyrations of a customer rebate program. The irony of the rebate redemption path is that customers can only use it if they’ve received an offer code from Sonos (in the same email with a “buy now” link from their direct to consumer site).

I’m trying to imagine one of our other manufacturers engaging in this kind of behavior. It’s hard to believe a company that credits so much of its success to the custom installation channel is going for a quick cash grab like this knowing full well it’s likely to generate a backlash.

I spoke with Sonos representatives and asked for their perspective. They seemed genuinely surprised that the offer would rub dealers the wrong way and asked me for suggestions. I read them what I’d written so far for this blog and encouraged them to adopt a spiff or affiliate program similar to what I described above. They seemed receptive. That’s very encouraging.

Sonos sent me this to post with my article. Here it is unedited:

People get the most out of Sonos when they can enjoy music all over the home. A limited-time offer for 20 percent off was emailed to a subset of customers who recently purchased their first Sonos. These new owners were given a unique, nontransferable code that can be redeemed on or, via cash back, from an authorized retailer. Details on how to do this were provided in the email sent to these individuals. This is a new type of offer that Sonos chose to honor among customers who purchase from dealers and retail partners.

Don’t get me wrong, in spite of this move by Sonos, they still make the best multi-room audio products hands down. Will we continue to sell Sonos? Absolutely. Are we constantly evaluating our options? Absolutely.

Are you a Sonos dealer? What do you think of the “Sonos New Owner Offer?”

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.