S~WAVE Marketing’s President Explains Asia’s Unique Attractions For AV
SCN Asia: What is your background in the industry and how did you come to start representing companies in the Asia-Pacific region?
Kris Jackson: My first 18 years in the industry were spent in technical support and product development. I started out doing technical support for Soundcraft USA, just before it was purchased by Harman, and then spent nine years as technical manager for Trident Audio USA. From there I moved into product management, product development, and marketing for Otari USA, TimeLine, and Mackie. In 2003, I started working as an international rep, and started my own company, S~WAVE Marketing, in 2006.
The driving forces behind my representation of companies in Asia-Pacific were the strong relationships that I had already developed in the region over the course of my career, coupled with the fast-growing economic climate. For many U.S.-based companies, Asia has traditionally been one of the last areas that they tackle with regards to setting up distribution and sales. Language, culture, cost of travel, import restrictions, and many other barriers exist that makeit daunting if you don’t already know how to do business in the region. For these companies, it makes a lot of sense to employ the services of an established, knowledgeable rep company to help them get started. That is where we come in.
SCN Asia: In the time you have been working in the region, are there particular territories or sectors of the installation marketplace that have shown particular growth?
KJ: Yes. In terms of territories, China has grown from relative obscurity to become the single largest market in Asia in just the last five years. Their growth has been phenomenal. As far as sectors of the installation market, I would say the adoption of digital audio distribution and processing in Asia has seen the largest growth as it continues to take over market share from analog.
SCN Asia: What was your biggest challenge when developing a process for doing business in the region?
KJ: Communication was by far the biggest challenge. In addition to major time zone differences (I live on the west coast of the U.S.), there are still many language barriers in the region. Opening an office in Singapore and hiring multi-lingual staff has proven to be critical to our success.
SCN Asia: What major, significant changes have you seen in the install industry in Asia/Pacific?
KJ: I think a major change has been in the maturation of local consultants and contractors in the region. More and more of the medium and large projects are being handled entirely in Asia instead of originating in the U.S. or Europe. Historically, much of Asia has been quite a few years behind the U.S. in adopting new technologies and methods of working. But now control systems and media storage are really starting to take off, and I am seeing significant growth in peripheral products like cables and power management (we recently added Furman to our representation). These are all areas that we are looking to expand on as the markets become more sophisticated.
Another area we are looking at is display technologies, specifically outof- home (OOH) digital signage products. The display business is very strong in Asia and continues to grow. We have also quite successfully begun representing major lighting brands in the region—a first for the lighting industry that has typically not employed rep companies in the past.
Our goal is to continue to offer a strong portfolio of products to the install markets with a focus on systems integration and cutting-edge technology.
SCN Asia: Do Asia/Pacific markets follow U.S. trends, or are they setting some of their own standards?
KJ: Some countries in Asia/Pacific, such as Japan, Korea, and Australia, are definitely setting their own standards. I would also add China to that list. In general, however, the U.S. still has a very strong influence in setting trends on all levels, from products to complete projects, and I believe will continue to do so for a long time to come.
SCN Asia: Why did you choose to focus on the Asia/Pacific region, and what is your view of its potential going forward?
KJ: I chose Asia/Pacific for a number of reasons. For one, I already had a strong background and contact base in the region from my technical and product development days, and have been traveling in the region for over 23 years. Another important factor is that in the last few years, the economic growth in much of Asia has been incredible, while the U.S. and Europe have been struggling. The potential for growth in countries like China and India is massive and has only just started. The next five years should be pretty exciting!