A New Group Director and Specialty AV Strategy Set Tone for ES Line
Sony’s STR-DA5600ES AV receiver is part of the company’s new exclusive ES line.
While most CEDIA manufacturers are broadening their product distribution, Sony announced earlier this summer that it would be narrowing the availability of its new high-end ES products to only qualified specialty retailers and custom installers. Helping to guide the group in charge of this line is 11-year company veteran Brian Siegel, a former VP of Sony’s national consumer sales group, where he led the company’s retail business. Siegel recently answered our questions about Sony’s new strategy and plans for the future.
You’ve been with Sony for a while, but only recently joined the team dedicated to the specialty and custom installation channel. What’s been your biggest challenge so far and what do you like about your new role?
While everyone’s big challenge today is avoiding commoditization, one of the most important aspects of Sony’s business is tell consumers the story of our products and how they add to the home theater experience. While Sony contributes to the innovation of many of the common technologies found in the average home AV product, our real strength is developing products with truly unique features that enhance consumer experiences. For instance, advances in consumer electronics technology provide a unique value for the custom market. It’s difficult to fully explain features like multi-room audio and home automation to consumers in an unassisted selling environment. This is why we’re leaning on the knowledge and experience of our specialty dealers and custom installation experts to provide an in-depth explanation to consumers. While this approach isn’t new for Sony, we are growing our focus more on supporting these partners by listening to them and learning from the past–what has worked an what hasn’t.
Brian Siegel is vice president of Sony’s Home Audio & Video Group in San Diego.
Sony recently announced its plan to make its ES line exclusive to specialty dealers, removing the line completely from the web. That move, I’m sure, is a breath of fresh air to CEDIA channel dealers but it’s counter to what most manufacturers are doing. How did Sony arrive at this strategy?
As the industry’s number-one AV manufacturer, Sony recognizes that we have a responsibility to manage growth while creating market demand and renewing retail partnerships. We see our ES AV receivers as the heart of home AV experience, [and] it is important for us to partner with those dealers who can best demonstrate value to consumers. This can only be done by experts in the retail environment or by installers who can explain the value of our products.
Moving our ES line off internet and telesales isn’t a reaction to competitive action in the market. We’re taking this direction because it’s the best for our dealers and our long-term success in this category. There are still plenty of high-quality non-ES components available via the internet or telesales, but we’ve reserved the ES line for our retail partners who are committed to explaining the true value of the product.
Now let’s talk products. In a nutshell what features make Sony’s new ES AV receivers and Blu-ray unique in the CEDIA channel?
Outside of the latest features such as HDMI 1.4 for 3D passthrough and audio return channel, Sony’s new ES AV receivers offer advanced calibration with our new DCAC EX with “Speaker Relocation.” This feature adds the ability to adjust the degree of the speaker to make an acoustically ideal listening environment, which is unique to Sony. Also, the “Quick Click” feature provides control of source devices via IR from a second zone. The customer can either use an on screen remote or a new free iPhone/iPod touch app.
The new ES line also offers networking features such as an Ethernet hub to connect other networked devices, Control over IP, and DLNA functionality. Also, our new BDP-S1700ES Blu-ray Disc player offers an IR input on the rear of the unit for custom install applications. Overall, the ES line is covered by a five-year warranty and 90-day advanced exchange program, giving integrators peace of mind and a strong quality message to sell their clients.