By Princewill Ekwujuru
THE intense competition for market share in the Home theatre segment of the home appliances sector of the electronics market, has triggered introduction of technological enhancements, design, and power efficiency features aimed at improving consumer experience.
These enhancements include the ability of the products to play music, watch films or other recorded items via Bluetooth, USB cable, while the products are also embedded with sensor.
Other enhancements include floor standing soundbar speakers, surround sound format, blu-ray and low power consumption and different product colours.
To maintain market share, the top contenders have developed and introduced power efficient Home theatres that can be operated under power fluctuation below 220 volts.
Meanwhile, major competitors for market share in the segment are Life’s Good, LG, Samsung, Sony, D Jack, Hisense, Panasonic, Whirlpool, Haier Thermocool, Beko and others. However, the top contenders are LG, Samsung, Sony, Whirpool and Panasonic.
Findings by Vanguard Companies and Markets, C&M revealed a growing demand for Home theatre driven by consumers’ increasing desire to have a befitting sound system with quality sound output for relaxation.
The need to satisfy the growing demand informed manufacturers’ production of various types, sizes and sound capacity, each designed to suit customers’ specific listening needs.
To satisfy consumer’s need, the manufacturers have also produced stylishly designed and pocket-friendly Home theatres for customers obsessed with second hand products.
The sound capacities of the products range from 200 watts to 5,000 watts depending on consumer’s need.
Other innovations include remote control features including recording of music and films on flash drive via the audio key button, coaxial and repeat, set up, sound effect, sleep mode buttons and others.
C&M discovered that competition in the market is further heightened by the increasing volume of imported second-hand Home theatre products.
C&M findings also showed that the manufacturers have deployed various marketing tools to battle second-hand Home theatre brands in the market.
They have also employed 360 marketing degree tools such as advertising, Public Relations, promotions, in-shop display and experiential marketing to enable consumers feel the workings of the sound systems, not forgetting the direct delivery concept to wholesalers for sale to retailers.
Findings by C&M revealed that consumer patronage is influenced by brand names, durability, design as well as referral from other consumers.
However, Home theatres like other home appliances have their peculiar challenges in spite of the technological advancements.
The challenges are compounded by lack or scarcity of original parts, and sometimes consumers have to wait for months to repair or replace any damaged part(s).
Major challenges are the lenses, which are sometimes difficult to replace when it gets bad, and when replaced, do not last long like the factory fitted ones.
C&M discovered that some consumers patronise second-hand products for economic reasons, which they claimed are more durable than new products, citing relatively high price of new Home theatres.
For example, a brand new LG full high definition, HD AUD 756W-LHD sells for N142, 000, while second-hand version sells for half the price.
Likewise, other brands in good working condition sell below their half price, without guarantee, while new products have at least a year guarantee.
Speaking to C&M, consumers were divergent in their preference for the different brands. While majority indicated preference for LG, Samsung and Panasonic, noting LG Home theatre is common in every Nigerian homes.
A consumer, Jeremiah Amolegbe, said: “I prefer LG because of its affordability despite that electronics are costly today, but it is better than others in the same category.” On his part, Chukwudire Chukwubioku, a consumer, said: “I prefer Samsung, even though it is costly, its high quality and designs, sound quality, just everything about their products”
On the other hand, a distributor at Alaba International market, Ojo LGA, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Most of the Home theatre brands are good, and this has to do with preference. According to records, I sell LG, Samsung, Panasonic more; I guess it’s because of their affinity with consumers.”
Speaking on technological advancements, an expert in Home theatre management, Bonnyface Ekulu of Trendtech Nigeria, located along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, said: “What is a technology market without a little competition? Dolby more or less dominated the surround-sound landscape for years. Then, in 1993, Digital Theatre Systems, DTS, came providing its own digital surround sound mixing services. DTS utilises a higher bit rate and, therefore, delivers more audio sound.
“Surround sound has since become a standard inclusion in Home theatres, but it remains a confusing technology for many. Though most understand the concept of using multiple speakers for theatre-like sound, many do not understand the difference between all the formats.”
A Sound Engineer with Atlas Technologies, Philip Aromire, spoke on Floorstanding soundbar speakers. He said there has been a strong move towards soundbars. “People may think that soundbars are more about looks than sound. Entry-level and mid-range Home theatre-in-a-box systems are giving way to soundbar/subwoofer systems because they offer an easy way to fill a room with audio. Built-in audio processing, Bluetooth, wireless subwoofers and one-remote operation are making those systems attractive options for people looking to upgrade from poor-sounding TV speakers.”