Boating Industry

March 2016

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Page 31 of 43 32 | Boating Industry | March 2016 MARKET FOCUS SECTION { AUDIO & ENTERTAINMENT } BY JONATHAN SWEET The days of slapping an add-on stereo into a boat and calling it a day are past. Instead, buyers these days are looking for the seam- less integration and sophisticated design they've come to expect from other industries. "Everyone wants the integrated look, not something that looks like an after- thought," said Tyson Kochan, chief operat- ing officer for Roswell. "They want it in a spot that's not going to be an eye sore, but part of their boat." Even when the system isn't integrated into the boat itself, consumers want more sophisticated styling and improved displays for standalone units. "Consumers have come to expect an upgraded level of entertainment," said Josh Berry, Prospec. "The days of yesterday were more of a dot-matrix style display. Now, a lot of our head units are moving to a color screen. The look of the unit is certainly more sophisticated." CONSUMER INFLUENCE A lot of this demand goes back to the influ- ence consumers are seeing in their automo- biles and other consumer devices. "Probably a good reason why that is coming about is the automotive industry," Berry said. "The boating industry looks at the automotive industry for certain styling, colors, things like that." Integration driving marine audio forward Improved design, quality key factors in success From the connected home to Micro- soft Sync in an entry-level Ford, consumers simply expect audio and technology to be a seamless part of the experience. They don't want to step on their boat and go back 10 years in time. Those trends are true in both the after- market and OEM business, Kochan said. "We have taken what the OEMs want and designed that for the aftermarket as well," he said. "If we can help people add that personal touch, but at the same time keep it sleek and part of the design, people like that." Consumers are not only more aware of audio technology than they were just a few years ago, but also more demanding higher quality. "It is not just about being loud," Ko- chan said. "That's why our Neptunes still sell well – they're more of a quality, true musical speaker." They're also more knowledgeable about which brands deliver that quality experi- ence, leading to OEMs being more con- cerned about it. That has helped Prospec's Harmin, Infinity and JBL brands. "The general public is becoming more in tune with what audio system brands are being placed on the boat," Berry said. "Be- fore it was just a marinized unit and that was great. Now, it's 'I don't want low-level "Everyone wants the integrated look, not something that looks like an afterthought." — Tyson Kochan, Roswell

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