These days, holiday promotions and sales prices begin well before so-called Black Friday.
Topping several surveys for most-wanted gifts this year are toys and games, with consumer electronics generally somewhere among the top five.
An estimated 32 percent of shoppers plan to make a consumer electronics purchase this season, the Consumer Electronics Association believes.
The NS-HD02 is the first HD Radio portable to feature Artist Experience, images related to a station, its songs or ads. Though the visual content is broadcast on a few stations now, more are expected soon. While price-wary, they’re looking to spend: The average American will spend $232 on electronics gifts this year, according to CEA’s 17th Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study — a gain of 5 percent from last year and the highest dollar amount in the history of the study. The trade group heard from approximately 1,000 respondents.
CEA said respondents listed notebook/laptop computers and Apple iPads as the most-wanted CE gifts, either for themselves or their kids.
Radios weren’t on the list. A spokeswoman told Radio World participants weren’t specifically asked about radio in the survey, though they could have included it as an answer to one of several open-ended questions. CEA did not find a significant percentage of respondents included radio in their responses.
Research firm NPD said respondents pegged consumer electronics as number four, after clothing, toys, movies and books. Within the CE category, some 2,000 participants included items such as MP3 players, DVD players, cell phones and satellite radios on their shopping lists. NPD did not return calls asking whether participants were questioned about terrestrial or HD Radio receivers.
If new product offerings are an indication of the market, though, someone will be buying radios.
New offerings include receivers for HD Radio and Internet radio; some of the more notable are featured in this article and in a related article. Next issue we’ll look at cell phones with FM radio and other consumer electronics offerings on holiday shelves.
IBiquity Digital Corp., HD Radio alliance stations and retailers participated in several high-profile promotions in recent months to build awareness and drive sales of HD Radios to consumers this holiday season.
For example, JVC conducted a campaign with Sears to promote the receiver maker’s integrated HD Radio tuner. (See sidebar for other campaigns.)
The websites Amazon.com, Crutchfield and Sony Style are selling HD Radio products, as are retailers with both brick-and-mortar and online presence, like Radio Shack, Best Buy and Wal-Mart and regional sellers.
“This year we focused on automotive aftermarket and portables,” said iBiquity SVP Marketing Steven Baldacci. “The more automotive aftermarket brand loyalty HD Radio can generate now, the better it is for HD Radio to build brand loyalty among young males,” he said, which will make a difference when that demo buys new cars.
Kenwood USA’s KDC-HD545U features an integrated HD Radio tuner and iTunes tagging. Portables — The next-generation Insignia HD, the NS-HD02, reached Best Buy shelves Oct. 24. While the NS-HD02 was backordered on the company’s website in mid-November, its stores seem well-stocked, according to the retailer, and it hoped to offer more units online late November to early December.
This is HD Radio’s first portable to feature Artist Experience, which are images related to the station, its songs or ads. The unit retails for $69.99 (prices in this article are as of mid-November). It features a larger screen than its predecessor, at 2.4 inches, plus the ability to cache up to 15 minutes of live programming. When transmitted by stations, the images make the receiver experience dynamic, iBiquity promises. When a listener tunes in a station, its logo pops up, branding the station with a graphic image. Once a song begins to play, the listener would see a pre-loaded image. Commercials can have related images as well.
The images can be synchronized with the audio, but they must be transmitted about 30 seconds or more in advance of that particular audio, so the receiver can store them for viewing. IBiquity is working on technical and album art licensing issues with automation vendors, stations and digital media company Gracenote.
“Stations are rapidly moving towards deployment in many major markets,” according to Baldacci, who adds the technology developer will have more to say about the stations transmitting the Artist Experience image data by the holidays. The technology developer believes the ability to transmit images will help stations with branding and bring in revenue from ads that include specific images.
The Microsoft Zune HD includes high-definition video output capabilities, an organic LED touch screen and an Internet browser. Zune HD is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing for streaming to the device from the Zune music store. The radio portion of the device features analog FM RDS and digital FM HD Radio song tagging capability. Best Buy offered the 32 GB version of this MP3 player for around $230 and the 64 GB version for approximately $350 on its website in November.
Ad Campaigns Highlight HD Radio Several ad campaigns this summer and fall sought to drive consumers into stores looking for HD Radios.
HD Radio Alliance stations are airing ads promoting new HD Radio receivers on some 600 stations in 100 markets through Dec. 28. The campaign includes separate ads tailored to drive consumers into Sears, Best Buy or Magnolia Home Theater stores for holiday offers and for new products bearing the JVC Mobile, Denon home audio and Best Buy Insignia house brand, the alliance said. The retailers collaborated with HD Radio partner brands JVC, Denon and Insignia and the HD Radio Alliance to launch products and holiday offers. Interactive and “drive to web” messaging is included and supported on relevant websites.
IBiquity demo’d HD Radio features as part of the My Lincoln Touch hands-free communications system in September in Washington. Photo by James DeRidder, iBiquity Kenwood collaborated with iBiquity on an ad this summer for its integrated HD Radio, the KDC-HD545U. Thirty-second ads aired on alliance station in the top 100 markets. The spots focused on HD Radio technology in general, including iTunes Tagging and HD2/HD3 digital channels.
Kenwood USA Marketing Development Manager Tony Mercado told Radio World the spots were aimed at driving people into stores for a demonstration, or to the Kenwood or iBiquity websites for details of the promotion. “We were happy with the results,” said Mercado. “We maintained our sales velocity over that thee-month period and got positive feedback from our dealer network.”
IBiquity was part of a three-day event Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 with Lincoln at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Georgetown in Washington. Lincoln invited automotive writers to test drive the 2011 Lincoln MKX and MKZ Hybrid.
IBiquity demoed the HD Radio features as part of the My Lincoln Touch driver connect technology. THX II audio systems are paired with HD Radio and DTS Neural Surround decoding in Lincoln 2011 models.
Senior Manager of OEM Marketing and Business Development James DeRidder said Ford asked iBiquity to make an interactive demo. IBiquity partnered with Clear Channel’s WASH(FM,) which aired pre-recorded jazz content in the DTS Neural surround format on its HD2 channel. The station, which has a smooth jazz format, also broadcast custom Program Service Data, which is on-screen text information, including song title and artist information, as well as text that highlighted the event, he said.
IBiquity has participated in similar events with other automakers.
— Leslie StimsonAutomotive aftermarket — JVC has added HD Radio to more in-dash CD receiver models. The KD-HDR40 CD receiver features an HD Radio tuner, front auxiliary input and MP3/WMA playback. Crutchfield listed this unit at $129.99.
The KD-HDR60 CD receiver features a built-in HD Radio tuner, front auxiliary input, USB 2.0 connection for iPod/iPhone control and iTunes tagging. The unit has MP3/WMA playback capability; Best Buy had it for $159.99, while Amazon.com showed it for $98.
The Arsenal KD-AHD69 includes the features of the KD-HDR60 and is satellite- and iPod-ready, with front USB port. The unit is MP3/WMA-compatible; Crutchfield sells it for $159.99.
The JVC KW-NT3HDT navigation receiver includes an HD Radio tuner and features iTunes tagging and Clear Channel’s Total Traffic HD Network, a free lifetime subscription with the purchase of the unit. Local weather conditions, sports scores and news headlines are also featured. The KW-NT3HDT navigation receiver is satellite- and iPod-ready and has a front USB port for iPod/iPhone control. The unit is MP3/WMA-compatible and features a front auxiliary input. Best Buy priced this unit at $1,199.99.
Kenwood USA’s integrated HD Radio solution for 2010 is the KDC-HD545U, with HD Radio and iTunes tagging. A front-panel USB input and mini-plug auxiliary input enables playback of external media. Mixed-preset memory gives the user one-touch access to selected AM, FM and HD Radio. With an additional tuner, the unit can receive satellite radio stations. The KDC-HD545U is available through authorized Kenwood retailers like Best Buy, which priced the unit at around $170.
Sony’s first CD receiver with an integrated HD Radio tuner, and its first with iTunes tagging, is the CDX-GT700HD. Available for around $180 from Sony and its retailers, like Best Buy and Amazon.com, the Xplod CD receiver features a detachable faceplate, front auxiliary input and MP3/WMA/AAC playback. A USB 1-wire for iPod, iPhone and MP3 players lets the user connect, charge and control a digital music player using the USB jack, as well as view metadata like song title and artist on the front display. Users can search and select songs by category including artist, album, genre or playlist. Jump Mode allows the user to fast-forward through a music category in 10 percent increments. Best Buy and Amazon had it for $179.99.
The Pioneer DEH-5200HD CD receiver features AM/FM radio and HD Radio, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3/WMA/AAC, front-panel auxiliary input and USB; the buyer can choose optional adapters for iPod control, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio. Amazon had it for $135, Wal-Mart for $220.
Tabletops — Sony XDR-S10HDiP HD Radio features an iPod/iPhone dock with a digital AM/FM/HD tuner. The alarm clock allows the user to wake to radio, buzzer, line-in source or iPod. It costs $123 at Amazon and lists for $149.95 from Sony.
The Dice Electronics HD Radio for the Visually Impaired, iTR-100-A, is based on the Dice iTR-100 tabletop HD Radio. It was designed with consideration for the visually impaired. Voice prompts and audible feedback have been added. Each button press is followed by an audio queue to help guide the user through actions such as station browsing or setting up the alarm clock. Buttons and knobs are arranged and spaced apart with ease of use in mind. Users can hear HD Radio or radio reading service audio. Walmart.com showed this unit for $299.