A Look Ahead at 2014 with the Biggest Brand Family in Custom Installation
The names that make up Core Brands have long been well recognized as leaders in the custom installation business. Now, as the all-encompassing entity that they’ve become, they can serve as a bellwether for product and business trends in the custom integration industry. For 2014, two of Core Brands’ three business segments are focused on increasing functionality and making price points more accessible for a broader customer base.
“General growth of the category through mainstream products is a big driver,” said Joe Lautner, Core Brands director of control segment. “Our dealers’ businesses are growing based on increasing interest for home controls.”
On the power and control sides of Core Brands, the outlook for 2014 is focused on increasing functionality and making price points more accessible for a broader customer base. Because consumers are gaining a better understanding of whole-home automation control systems through the capabilities of mass-market offerings new to the market, the control division at Core Brands is working to bring its own prices down while retaining high-end performance, or, in other words, “delivering value that’s still in the price points for the custom install channel,” Lautner said.
One method is to provide “base functionality” out of the box, at lower price points, with myriad customization options that will cost more for those customers looking for more bells and whistles.
Consumer trends are also driving Core Brands’ investment in greater Wi-Fi capabilities to control more products in the home. They are also leveraging popular streaming audio content sources out of AVRs into a whole house audio platform as an option, instead of requiring another box to do so.
Lautner also pointed to new opportunities for control systems based on the way the industry is evolving. “When we started doing control 12 years ago, it was to integrate best-of-breed third-party components,” Lautner said. “Fast forward to today, and there’s the next generation of products like Nest and door locks. There’s still a great opportunity in our channel to leverage those.”
Core Brands’ control and power segments have bonded particularly closely as the ELAN g! system relies on Panamax/Furman as its network backbone. And, the focus for the power segment of Core Brands has shifted predominantly into the energy management and networking spheres.
“The way power is being delivered and priced is changing,” said John Benz, director of the power and accessories business segment. “The field of energy management is becoming real and is a great opportunity for integrators. That’s where we come in with BlueBOLT,” which allows integrators to monetize this new field. “It’s not just power anymore; it’s the network. Our goal isn’t just protecting against surges; it’s keeping systems online.”
Overall, Core Brands is expecting a continued focus on its dealers for 2014, as well. “Each of the segments are now working together more than ever before,” said Joe Roberts, Core Brands vice president, products and marketing. “We can get to know our customers better than ever before. This is a change we’ve seen in the last year or more.”
Roberts emphasized Core Brands’ deep appreciation for their dealers, thanking them in particular for their support and the awards they won this last year. He said part of their focus for 2014 is “making it easier to do business with us.”
Audio Amped for Big Product Rollouts
Market trends driving business and product development for the audio segment of Core Brands is leading it to ambitiously push new products to meet consumer demands.
Mitch Witten TV audio and more invisibility have been the big trends that continue to drive the audio division at Core Brands, as well as wireless audio. “As this whole reorganization has taken place, we have quietly been rolling out a bunch of products, and we’ve got some huge plans for 2014,” said Mitch Witten, director of the audio segment. “You’ll see a lot more new stuff.”
They’re working on more ways to make TV audio simple for dealers to install, giving a nod to the Resi Award-winning Niles Cynema Soundfield in-wall soundbar for its installation-friendly nature.
Flangeless speakers achieve the invisibility factor, Witten added, so we’re likely to see more of those.
The audio segment is also working on the next generation of multi-room audio hardware and the platforms that will control it, keeping in mind that people want to use mobile devices to access the content and control the systems.
“We’re trying to make that as easy as possible,” Witten said.
High-performance audio is still a critical part of the Core Brands story, too, he added. “As we work on the next generation of loudspeakers, there are ways we can tune products to take best advantage of streaming media, so we can make it sound better.”