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MichaelMiles
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MichaelMiles posted on Wed, Aug 7 2013 3:39 PM
The Reading store is now closed - gone are the heady days when there were 120 stores in the UK . There are only 61 now !!! And of these ,possibly 8-10 are owned and managed by B&O themselves !!! Who knows what accounts model these operate on , surely not the same one used by those hardworking franchised dealers. I admire those dealers but would be interested to know if the UK has a new model of operation , or will we see even more shrinkage of the network ?

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w5bno123
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Lee, thanks for the passion in what is a well written post. As a dealer the main part of the business I feel let down on has to be the marketing, without this the footfall cannot be driven to the store and sales cannot be made.

There appears to be no strategy or staff to market the business centrally. Locally we all do our bit but its never enough. I will not invest in anymore store elements, fixtures and fittings until sales pick up.

We have the people, we have the heritage and stories, lets shout it from the rooftops. I love this brand so much, we have invested all of our money into it and all is for it to be successful and for my kids to inherit.

We are a far cry from where the economy was 14 years ago when stores were turning over good money. Shops like Hampstead, Kingston and Bath were right up there, 2 out of 3 have gone, why? Is it the business owners, the area or the brand?

This was written on the go between jobs this evening, so apologies for any spelling mistakes or grammar. Would love to see some more BeoWorlders in our stores soon!

Regards

Stuart
moxxey
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w5bno123:

We are a far cry from where the economy was 14 years ago when stores were turning over good money. Shops like Hampstead, Kingston and Bath were right up there, 2 out of 3 have gone, why? Is it the business owners, the area or the brand?

I haven't been in the Bath store for about 3 months. I know their shop lease expires this year, so I hope the store isn't going to close. I know they were looking for alternative premises, but this was proving to be a struggle (the store needs accessibility and finding a retail premises where you can temporarily park a van outside, isn't easy). Hope they get this stored.

As for marketing. You know, I don't hear from my local store. They used to be quite pro-active and contact you with deals that you might be interested in. In fact, I've bought more B&O kit through deals than brand new product. They don't contact me, I don't go in the store. I do think stores could be much more pro-active in their approach. Northern European retail is very passive in their approach to marketing. They sit there hoping for people to come to them, rather than getting out and bringing people in for a reason. Indeed, my local store still prints and posts letters to customers, rather than pro-actively emailing them with some suggestions.

For instance, if an email came in suggesting an A9, I might be tempted. But they wait for me to visit them. And, frankly, I can't be bothered. Oh and the watch store is on the way and I get distracted....plus they are much more ready to offer you a deal.

B&O has a real old fashioned relationship with their customer-base which hasn't changed in 10 years, in my opinion.

rednik
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I came quite close to investing a lot of money in a store about 6 years ago.  I love the brand and am a customer, as are members of my family.

 

i visited a lot of stores around the country and spoke to a lot of dealers.  I still travel through much of Europe with work, and especially when travelling the UK try and pop into different stores.

 

Once you explain to the store staff or owners that you nearly opened a store yourself they seem quite open (in the whole) about telling you what a lucky escape you had.  Lack of product, sky high prices, marketing, being unable to show other brands, and the general costs associated with running the business seem to be the main issues.

 

i also looked at Loewe, and opening a general CI showroom.  I didn't come across many other brands who impose such restrictions on their retailers, and even make them compulsory purchase products they may not want for display and even windows (at full price!)

 

i regretted staying in my old job for a while as I resent the travel and missed time with my family, but with hindsight a B&O store which would have swallowed at least 150k to setup wouldn't have been a good option., even at a time when one of the benefits B&O talked about was the fact that the products weren't available to buy anywhere else.

rednik
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moxxey:

B&O has a real old fashioned relationship with their customer-base which hasn't changed in 10 years, in my opinion.

Last I heard the stores weren't allowed to run their own local facebook, twitter, or google + pages.  Mental

Mark
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Mark replied on Fri, Aug 9 2013 8:43 PM
So with think the B&O business model is wrong.

Even though I own a number of B&O pieces I don't enjoy going into their shops (it's the same as car showrooms) but I do enjoy popping into to Apple, John Lewis, Waitrose and a number of clothing retail outlets.

As someone mentioned B&O are preaching to the converted but I do agree with them having stand alone showrooms so they need to look at ways of relaxing the showroom atmosphere, making it more inviting and as many mentioned embrace the past.

What are your thoughts for someone like Sony to buy and use as a "halo" brand ?

we tend to forget there is more to design than designing.

soundproof
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Some years ago, I was involved with B&O marketing. We participated in a competition for the world wide account, and beat the leading Japanese agency, a major American agency, and others.

I was then introduced to the nightmare of trying to create good advertising for B&O - which proved impossible. 

We identified exactly what Lee is pointing out: you have to connect with and engage younger customers; you have to tell brand stories that are in-depth and that reveal the ingenuity of B&O; and you need attitude.

Remember the old Beomaster 1900 ad with the Japanese studying the amplifier? That had attitude. That's what we wanted to do for B&O. I was able to do interviews with Helene Grimaud (brilliant pianist), with John Mathieson (photographer who shot Gladiator, among other epics), with Daniel Harding (conductor who raved about being in an Audi A8 listening to himself conducting Mahler).

We wanted the Apple generation to realize they could use B&O's active speakers without an amplifier. And we wanted to move activities to the stores, and use the stores as the advertising medium.

No go. The brand didn't dare stand out, the chief reason being that the various national rep's wanted something that would fly without any objections anywhere. The brand didn't run its advertising, instead it listened to every objection raised around the world, and ended up with blandness that was ignored everywhere - instead of communication with attitude that would be noticed.

It was a tremendous letdown to go through. We had an incredible pianist raving about the BL5s. A world class cinematographer that enthused about how his movies played to perfection on B&O screens and theatres. I had the Berlin Philharmonic ready to enter into a collaboration with B&O, leading musical agents willing to have their talent plug the brand. And they didn't dare push it hard - instead opting for the product shot in an unliveable atmosphere. Waste of advertising space and money.

I am a diehard B&O enthusiast and wanted others to become as engaged with the brand's unique stories. Because the stories are there, ready to be told. Sometimes, products are so unique and great that you don't need embellishing them with anything else - at other times, you can revitalize brand perceptions with the kind of stories we were pushing, and that have been mentioned above.

For instance, while in Portugal presenting the new brand platform to all the dealers, I was in a room together with the head of audio, listening to music from a pair of BL5s. But he was disturbed, something was wrong. And he realized that my iPhone was playing music through its earbuds, in the back of the room - and that little sound was the reason he was disturbed. That would have been a tremendous story to tell - his ability to listen was that acute.

It's tragic. I had fun - I met Frede Kristensen, and was able to do an interview with him for the catalogue, telling the story of how I got him to refurbish a Beolab/Beomaster 5000 for me. But marketing management then wasn't able to believe in the power of those stories - instead opting for the blandness that everyone was comfortable with inside the organization, and no one cared about outside.

We wanted to do lots of work like the ad I'm appending, but it didn't fly with management. Our suggestions were outside their comfort zone.
It ended when we suggested having a leading Japanese game developer invite people to come into the stores, with large store window displays, to experience what playing his games would be like on B&O equipment. That was too radical, and "would scare away our customers." 

Hindsight is cheap - but what's been done to the B&O brand by management is close to criminal, in my opinion. And I'm starting to get the sense that it is too late to turn the brand around. I should probably not write this post, but like Lee (whom I came to know through our efforts for B&O) we loved the brand and wanted others to love it, as well. To get that going, you have to take chances, you have to be unconventional, and you have to believe in what you're selling with as much conviction as your greatest fan and adherent.

And you have to be in charge of your communication - today more than ever - if you want it to get noticed.

(Click the BeoLab 5 pdf above for the sample. We had to get permission from each of those concert halls, all renowned for their acoustics, all pleased to be associated with B&O, for free!)

Adding: today, I received the stands for my mint condition Beovox S45-2 speakers. I sprayed them with aluminium paint, mounted the speakers. Used the cables that Steve at SoundsHeavenly just sent me, connected them to my Beolab 5000, and have spent some time listening and enjoying - and thinking that this would also have been a great ad. What other electronics brand can tell a story like that? (Thanks also to Dillen, who sent me the capacitors for those speakers, to help me make them "as new" again. B&O has enthusiasts all over the world, who love the brand, who are keeping it alive, in spite of marketing's efforts to kill it.)

 

 

Opman
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Opman replied on Sat, Aug 10 2013 10:10 AM

Bang & Olufsen of Liverpool are a sponsor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and last year sponsored the St. Matthews Passion. Before the performance, we were able to play some classical music through the BeoLab5's on the stage for our invited guests.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bang-Olufsen-of-Liverpool/145580285529638?id=145580285529638&sk=photos_stream

Millemissen
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rednik:

moxxey:

B&O has a real old fashioned relationship with their customer-base which hasn't changed in 10 years, in my opinion.

Last I heard the stores weren't allowed to run their own local facebook, twitter, or google + pages.  Mental

Hi rednik,

Not in my experience - please tell us 'where' you have heard this.

Hi moxxey,

I can't recognize that here in Denmark - maybe it is the 'british way' of doing Bang & Olufsen Embarrassed

Sometimes I even think I get too many emails from my local stores 'trying to sell me the latest stuff'.

Greetings Millemissen

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

vikinger
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vikinger replied on Sat, Aug 10 2013 11:58 AM

Opman:

Bang & Olufsen of Liverpool are a sponsor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and last year sponsored the St. Matthews Passion. Before the performance, we were able to play some classical music through the BeoLab5's on the stage for our invited guests.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bang-Olufsen-of-Liverpool/145580285529638?id=145580285529638&sk=photos_stream

Hi Nick,

Looks like you've just disproved half the theories put forward in this thread!

 

Graham

moxxey
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moxxey replied on Sat, Aug 10 2013 12:37 PM

Millemissen:
I can't recognize that here in Denmark - maybe it is the 'british way' of doing Bang & Olufsen Embarrassed

Yes, but these emails are an extension of the printed literature. The stores do email, but they are usually just the same stuff you get in the post.

What I mean is that I'd like to see stores become more personal. My watch dealer and other watch dealers do this. So do car showrooms. They'll send personal emails on new watches they think you'd like, deals on watches or cars that are applicable to yourself and just keep in touch on a 1:1 level. B&O stores, in my experience - I've had a relationship with three stores - tend to follow the corporate line. They post literature and email the same stuff, only when it's made available to them.

I have a ton of Danish furniture, but none of these manufacturers tell you about the heritage, quality of production and so on, in their advertising. When they do advertise, you get a photo of a chair slapped in the middle of the page, plus a list of retailers....who never have the advertised chair on display!

It's definitely much more a Northern European approach to attracting customers - you can see this in pan-European magazines such as Monocle (http://www.monocle.com).

StUrrock
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moxxey:

Millemissen:
I can't recognize that here in Denmark - maybe it is the 'british way' of doing Bang & Olufsen Embarrassed

Yes, but these emails are an extension of the printed literature. The stores do email, but they are usually just the same stuff you get in the post.

What I mean is that I'd like to see stores become more personal. My watch dealer and other watch dealers do this. So do car showrooms. They'll send personal emails on new watches they think you'd like, deals on watches or cars that are applicable to yourself and just keep in touch on a 1:1 level. B&O stores, in my experience - I've had a relationship with three stores - tend to follow the corporate line. They post literature and email the same stuff, only when it's made available to them.

Great thread some great points made.

As an out town store we very much tend to do our own thing and that has never done us any harm.

A big store with large footfall such as B&O in Harrods, for example, will always do well and following the B&O line to the letter is good, giving the corporate B&O experience.

For the rest of us it is just as important to integrate B&O with other products were needed and finding bespoke solutions for every client, no matter how much they spend. Of course with the best customer service.

 

Puncher
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I have little time for marketeers, certainly all those I've ever dealt with! I've lost count of the times we've had a product with a real performance advantage which was never promoted for fear of standing out from the crowd and offering something different to the mainstream - I would have thought that this would be exactly what a marketeer would want!!!

All they ever ask for is the same as everyone else but more of everything - there are no risks and hence no breakthroughs. The majority had scarily little knowledge of the product and zero technical knowledge and yet claimed to be the people who "understood" our customers via weak questionnaires filled with silly questions like "how much would you pay for.........." etc. Our products are more targeted to retailer's buyer requirements than they are to what an end user might actually find useful!

 The people invariably also have a high turn around as they move away to totally unrelated companies with bigger budgets and more spend (a move to Laura Ashley springs to mind).

I don't find it any surprise that probably two of the best marketeers of modern times, Jobs and Dyson, had technical backgrounds and an overwhelming passion for the product and belief in what they were doing. (This doesn't necessarily mean they were right, we bought a DC01 and it was rubbish - I had to clean the thing out every week with a bent wire to remove furballs that blocked the airpath).  Nevertheless he convinced the populous that it didn't block up and had no bag to clean/empty (he conveniently didn't mention the two filter pads that needed cleaning or replacing) - the rest is history..........in my generation Hoover was a generic term for all vacuum cleaners - you don't hear it at all now!

None of this would even happen with committees, focus groups or a young marketer assigned to a product development team - they will never dare to be different!!

B&O's long history of products photographed in expensive empty rooms does not suggest style or luxury (at least to me), it looks cold and soulless. This is the 21st Century, - use all of the media available to promote the equipment. Advertise the features and capabilities, tell people why it is different and why this is a good thing. Sell it to the whole family rather than just middle aged, prematurely balding Dad! Stop trying to push the style and lifestyle thing - if people like it they will like it when they see it without being told to like it........sell performance! Stop wasting money of articles about why Wilfred the orchestra conducter thinks BLwhatsits are brilliant..... very few people will ever read it and even less care! The time remaining for selling new products to 1980's customers is rapidly running out!

 

Ban boring signatures!

moxxey
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moxxey replied on Sat, Aug 10 2013 2:26 PM

Puncher:

Sell it to the whole family rather than just middle aged, prematurely balding Dad! Stop wasting money of articles about why Wilfred the orchestra conducter thinks BLwhatsits are brilliant..... very few people will ever read it and even less care! 

To be fair to B&O, I did think they did this correctly with the BV8 launch. It was photographed as a TV for your kids, their playroom, playing games or perhaps in the kitchen, for the family. I was impressed with the way they photographed this TV. They had a spell a few years ago where they got it right. This was around the time of the BV8, BeoCom 5 launch. Since then, they've gone back to the old-style of marketing - like Puncher says, depicting an orchestra in your living room or similar.

Chris Townsend
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The Danish advert for the Beovision 8 was a nice one. Mercedes went down this new demographic/sex thing 10 years back.

Beovision Eclipse, Beolit 15, Beoplay A2, H6/H2, Form 2, Beoplay A3, Beovision 5-42 connected to a DVD1

Scuttlebroom
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I agree with lee 100% as I am also of a certain age, and I grew up with my father having a B&O radio and amp form the 1970's era (all lovely wood!) And i purchased (After much help from you guys when this site first started!) And i bought a BV3 32", which i have to say is still going strong after 8 years now, and too many moves to mention! (How I have managed to get away with only one small scratch on the aluminum door of the cabionet, is beyond me!

 

But my point is, every time I have moved, everyone says exactly the same thing: "WOW! What a lovely TV!"  And when they see it working, especially the stand turning, they are gobsmacked that and old CRT TV  has such a crisp picture, and the sound, especially using a Humax HDR FOX-T2 to show HD, is stunning, the picture quality is so good, I shudder sometimes when I see the quality some people put up with from the mass market TV's (I did a lot of re-tuning when London swapped over to Digital!)

 

Yes it is expensive, and i wish I could afford to buy more, but I agree with Lee, I don't see any marketing from B&O.

I even popped into the new Dorchester collection hotel on Park lane last year 42 park Lane, and they have a lovely B&O flat screen on the wall in the bar, although no one seemed to know how to use it!

I only discovered new of the A8 when I popped into the B&O store in Kings Road, as I was passing and saw it in the window, now I am saving up for an iPad and a Beoplayer A8 so i can retire my old cassette deck and de-clutter!

If only B&O took a leaf out of Volvo's book and pushed their unique selling points, they would get much more custom, and hopefully more people would want them!

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