The Future of Audio is… Women!December 18, 2012
Every day there’s a new rant on what is or isn’t the “future” of high end audio.
One camp insists that the vinyl resurgence is essential to gaining more minions, another hates vinyl with a passion, claiming that LP’s have inferior specs and no potential for multichannel reproduction (talk about dead horses!), while still another feels headphones and personal audio will save the world. I submit they are all missing the boat in a major way. The constant whining about formats and hardware is short sighted at best and drives people away from audio at it’s worst.
The enjoyment of music should enhance your life and the minute it becomes a hassle in todays fast paced, attention deficit driven world, people change the channel. As someone who’s been obsessed with audio most of their life, sold it and now covers it on a daily basis, I’ve discovered a major change in the game. Women are the key to high end audio’s future.
Back in the early days of high end audio (to me, that’s the 70s and 80s), audio gear, like sports cars, motorcycles and such were manly things to do and women were rarely if ever considered or invited to the dance. How many of you, long in the retail game, had customers that made purchases insistent on using a certain credit card or checking account that “their wives didn’t see?” Much like the focus group scene in Mad Men, where Don Draper asks Roger Sterling what women think and he glibly answers, “who cares?”
But as Ice-T says, “Shit ain’t like that anymore.”
You need look no further than the recent T-Mobile ads with the devilishly attractive woman on the sport bike racing around, or the female hosts on The Attack of the Show, to see that times have changed. Watching the teens and twenty somethings of today, women have become just as excited about technology as men are, and they are just as efficient. While my 19 year old daughter doesn’t check her oil as often as I would like her to, she knows what’s going on under the hood and a number of her friends have geeked out cars with exhaust pipes big enough for Honey Badger to climb into. And they are no slouch at setting up a wireless router, either.
I can’t tell you how many times in the last few years, I’ve gone to a friends house and commented on their massive flat panel TV only to find out it was their wife or girlfriend that insisted on a 70-inch screen instead of the 50-inch model they thought they would have to beg for. You’ll get my wife’s Meridan F80 compact music system ($2,995 MSRP) away from her when you pry her cold, dead hands from it, and like many women I know, was very influential in our early adoption of the Sooloos music server. A recent visit to Ears Nova in New York City confirms this. When we were discussing who makes the purchase decisions in 2012, owner Joshua Cohn said, “Women key in on great sound and the emotional involvement right away. It’s usually the men that need to do more research, compare specs, or get an additional opinion from someone on an internet forum. Women are rarely if ever the ones that object to the sale.”
The bottom line is that enthusiasm breeds engagement, which translates into purchases. When your female partner says, “Let’s get that new pair of MartinLogan speakers,” or “I want a better turntable,” most guys aren’t going to say “Let’s buy a couch instead.” The fact that we are living in a world of technologically savvy women can only mean good things for the consumer electronics industry.