SIT&B was founded in Spain three months ago with the goal of providing outsourced commercial services to multinationals, converting the traditional sale of technical products into a sale of consulting services. Joan Carles Martín is at the helm, spearheading the drive to provide added value to the distributor and to consolidate and continue growing the quality, innovation and awareness that characterize the first brand to be represented: Pioneer.
How and why was SIT&B founded?
Taking into consideration the maturity of the markets and the difficulties experienced by Pioneer during the financial crisis, and after the withdrawal from plasma television, the decision was made to sell some of its assets in order to recapitalize the company. This eventually led to the company being divided into 3 businesses: one that received the lion’s share of the car audio business (Pioneer Corporation); the DJ division, acquired by a North American investment fund; and the home division, incorporated into Onkyo’s business.
In the Spanish market, it was not viable for each of the three new multinationals to have its own individual structure. The issue was therefore how to redesign operations such that the three new companies would maintain their market share and presence in distribution. Ultimately, this led to the founding of SIT&B, a company designed to provide services to multinationals and with capacity to provide services to more brands. Our services encompass sales and marketing, technical services and operations management (logistical and administrative).
What challenges does SIT&B face?
Our first challenge is to stabilize operations. Pioneer España, where I was Sales Director, was on a very positive path of growth, increasing market share and presence at points of sale. I always use a simile when I explain this. We were like a train in which the locomotive engine, Pioneer España, was pulling its coaches, our entire distribution. It was moving at a very high speed, with three years of growth. However, at a given moment, you need to disconnect the existing locomotive and connect a new one, SIT&B, without losing any coaches or speed. This was the challenge.
It is a work in progress. We have only been in existence for three months and in the last two we have already exceeded the turnover of Pioneer Iberica last year. We can say that we were capable of maintaining the momentum of growth that had existed up to now. There is still a lot to do. Now we intend to redesign the processes of our current clients Pioneer Onkyo and Pioneer Europa to make them a lot more efficient so that they can provide a better service to distributors. Process reengineering will be part of our business’s DNA.
What are your short-term objectives?
The primary one is to deliver the maximum level of satisfaction to the companies we represent and to consolidate and expand turnover, market share and presence in the channel. From the retailer viewpoint, we want it to benefit from the high awareness of the Pioneer brand at the point of sale, one synonymous with quality and customer satisfaction, and we want to help maintain the average market price. In mature sectors such as car audio and home electronics, it is important that there are brands focused on quality not on eroding prices downwards.
As a business, our objectives are to consolidate stability in operations -after three months, we have achieved this to 90%-; to implement changes and improvements -something that we will be doing continuously-; and, from autumn, to start thinking about expanding the business and approaching other brands and multinationals.
What value do you provide to represented companies?
We understand that economic cycles are associated with pendular motion. At the moment, given the high maturity of the consumer electronics sector, there is a certain withdrawal on the part of multinationals, leading them to slim down their organizations in Europe and to focus on prime markets to the detriment of peripheral markets. Although globalization has made it possible to centralize certain activities, one that cannot be delocalized is commercial activity, which requires an “in situ” presence and contact with distribution. SIT&B wants to provide this type of service to any brand or multinational that wants to maintain an organizational model centralized in one or a few countries in Europe but with a presence in more regions. For Spain, Portugal and North Africa, we provide this gateway.
What are the strengths of SIT&B in terms of the business philosophy?
It can be summarized by the meaning of the company name, SIT&B, which are the initials of English words. “S” stands for sales and “I” for intelligence. Our strength was having the ability to convert the traditional sale into the sale of consulting services. We try to make the right product available at the right time, at the right price and with the right level of promotion to ensure a high level of turnover at the point of sale and minimal inventory levels for our client. We want to make an intelligent and efficient sale so that the distributor sees in us added value and a business partner. The “T” and “B” stand for technology and brand. We are in our element when working with technical products and brand value, and we endeavour to make sales backed up by expert advice and adapted to our clients.
What commercial strategy will you pursue with Pioneer?
We will continue consolidating the brand as a reference in the audio field. In both hi-fi and components, as well as portable and home audio, we will position Pioneer as a reference for distribution. In car audio, Pioneer has been the leader since three years ago and we will consolidate this position by reinvigorating the market. Pioneer has increased its market share and customer loyalty with a product whose average price is above the market average but which is reliable and of high quality — this inspires confidence in the distributor as well as the consumer. Pioneer is now in a position to stimulate the sector so that, following moderate falls in recent years, the trend will change and we will start to see growth, hand in hand with economic recovery. At SIT&B, we will drive home the need to adapt vehicles to new technologies and interconnectivity and we will promote the concept of the connected vehicle so that the channel is able to boost sales and increase turnover.
What is the company’s structure?
We have a total of 20 employees, 14 of whom make up the commercial team. The same team will market the products of Pioneer Europe and Pioneer Onkyo Europe. We consider it important that distribution has a single contact point that is very focused on their business.
What kind of reception are you experiencing from distribution?
The reception has been very positive, with plenty of tranquillity and calmness, after we overcame a turbulent period during which there was little clarity over how we would tackle the change and how operations would be redesigned in Spain. Once we had explained things, the reception was very positive
Which are the most important products in the Pioneer catalogue?
Pioneer is committed to the development of connected products, for the home as well as vehicles. For the home, there is continuing development of lines of wireless products using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology; units such as receivers that gather all possible sources of audio and video in a home then distribute them to several rooms or concentrate them in the living room for optimal enjoyment of audio and video.
In the world of car audio, the paradigm is the connected vehicle. Pioneer was the first manufacturer to have devices compatible with Apple’s Car Play and to launch a product compatible with Google’s Android Auto. With these devices, you can keep your vehicle connected, receive traffic information in real time, interact, receive communications and send messages from the car without taking your hands off the steering wheel. Pioneer is the first manufacturer to include all these functionalities in mass-production devices.
Which do you think are the most important criteria for consumers when they buy a Pioneer product?
The brand value, without a doubt. The brand has a high value in the minds of consumers, who recognize that they are getting a solid, high-quality product that seeks to become a technology leader. The Pioneer brand has remained present in the minds of different generations and profiles. Pioneer is synonymous with innovation, responsibility and technological value.
How do you see the current state of the market?
Without a doubt, the indicators fill us with optimism. We are observing an increase in consumer confidence. Entry into a positive cycle of economic recovery is being consolidated and hopefully there will be no bumps ahead that cause a slump in confidence. The current recession didn’t occur so that things could stay as they were before. We don’t expect to repeat the past. Things will change but it is good to see that confidence is returning and that there is once again interest in the less-essential things such as music and sound quality.
Origin: Marron y Blanco Magazine (May 2015) marronyblanco.com