30 Seconds On The Business Of… The UAE’s Audio Retail Industry

Gulf Business speaks to Amit Malani, president of Harman Middle East

What are the different segments and products available within audio retail?

The UAE’s consumer audio market can be broken down into various key segments, which include: sound bars, home audio and cinema, headphones, portable speakers, pro-speakers, receivers, blue-tooth enabled speakers, music players and car audio.

Who are your target consumers—individuals or corporates?

Individuals are our main focus target consumers. Over the last few years, we have noticed a shift in consumer buying patterns, which can be summarised into the following categories – family style -home audio devices that cater to the whole family and complement existing devices like HDTVs, music players etc; individuals who are music lovers and opt for devices that offer the best music quality, and lastly, individuals who like listening to music or watching videos on- the- go. The last group, in particular, has given us huge growth on the portable speaker segment.

Are UAE consumers brand-conscious or price-conscious?

Today’s consumers have demonstrated a key shift in their purchase activities—wanting to learn more about the product before making a purchase decision. For them, it is not an issue of price and brand but rather making a decision based on the objective of getting full value for money.

As technology advances, do you see competition heating up in the industry?

The challenge actually lies in the fast changing nature of the technology industry. Because of this, new and upgraded products constantly flood the market, resulting in low profit margins for the retailers, who are in tough competition with each other.

Where do you see the UAE’s audio retail segment headed in the near future?

The UAE audio retail segment is on a positive growth streak. Consumers today have demonstrated a strategic shift towards emerging technology trends like bring your own device (BYOD) and lifestyle-oriented buying patterns like complementing new age HDTVs with sound bars. At this pace, the advent of a minimalistic-oriented lifestyle will continue as newer technologies come into the market.