SCN: What technology and/or verticals were most successful in 2014?
Julia Lee: Sports facilities and houses of worship are typically strong markets for Community loudspeakers. Projects that were put on hold for economic reasons came back forcefully this year. Community also has seen a significant rise in demand for our loudspeakers in hospitality venues or for any type of 70V distributed installation.
With respect to the entire industry, digital mixing consoles seem to have enjoyed much success this past year. Digital consoles are now affordable and easy to use.
What customer or end-user demand surprised you the most and why?
In the U.S., a larger number of U.S. contractors are purposely choosing to purchase solely through distribution channels instead of buying factory direct. There is apparently a growing desire among contractors and systems integrators to have fewer vendors to deal with. Intuitively one would think there is a cost savings in buying factory direct, but most AV contractors today are broadening their offerings to include lighting, security, and automation, etc. With so many product sources per project, it seems that a growing number of contractors are choosing to streamline their purchasing operations.
Internationally, while the demand for EN 54 certified products in EMEA was expected, the high level of demand for Community’s EN 54 certified large format, high power R SERIES in stadiums across Europe was somewhat surprising. Projects in the Middle East and Africa are also citing EN 54 requirements.
Which vertical markets are on the rise and which do you see declining?
Sports facilities, entertainment venues, security, and houses of worship will continue to grow as markets for Community and for AV integrators overall. New facilities are under construction for schools and universities, and many facilities have undertaken ‘fan experience’ improvements to existing systems, broadening the use of products intended for high-power music and voice applications.
Separate AV and IT departments are becoming a thing of the past. AV and IT are now AV/IT with emphasis on the network. IT network compatibility can definitely influence end-user purchase decisions.
Julia Lee is the Director of Sales and Marketing, Community Professional Loudspeakers.