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Devialet wants to play on all ranges

With its new enclosure, more accessible, the French specialist of its intends to expand his audience without losing his aura. A cheerful chaos reigns in the hu

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Devialet wants to play on all ranges

With its new enclosure, more accessible, the French specialist of its intends to expand his audience without losing his aura.

A cheerful chaos reigns in the huge room. The floor to ceiling windows offer a unique panorama over the rooftops of Paris, but the workers, most dressed in t-shirt, are too busy to take a look. Their offices are literally covered with screens, printed circuit boards and bits and pieces of speakers. A paradise for geeks. It is here that the hundreds of engineers as Devialet designs the speakers and the amps that make the reputation of this French brand, top of the range. "You find that it looks like the premises of a company in the luxury sector, you?" smiled the CEO, Franck Lebouchard.

And yet, it is luxury that you are talking about. Devialet has become famous among audiophiles by launching in 2010 a range of amplifiers whose prices range from 5, 000... 24 000 euros. In 2015, this was the appearance of the pregnant Phantom, kinds of spheres of white to the power of evil (up to 4 500 watts), sold between 1 500 and 2 900 euros a piece. Of the products full of innovation, who collected the awards, which have enabled the company to achieve in 2017 an estimated turnover of 100 million euros - it no longer communicates any figures for the past two years. True to its mantra of origin, "One day, everyone will have a Devialet", it markets this month a new model, the Reactor, more compact and accessible, with "only" 990 euros. Objective : to launch the sales of 50 000 units per year to several hundreds of thousands. The challenge is : change the scale, touch a much wider audience on a niche that is very competitive, without losing its aura, nor to cheapen its brand.

500 000 hours of R&D

"To achieve this without scaring off its initial subscriber base, a company must stay the best on each of its product categories, by transferring the technologies and the benefits of the higher ranges to the ranges lower", schematized Delphine Dion, a professor of marketing at Essec Business School. This is typically what has managed to make a Mercedes with its A-Class small car which keeps the advantages of large. Devialet seems to have taken the seed.

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"We have been working for three years on the Reactor, which represents more than 500,000 hours of R&D", explains Franck Lebouchard. It was necessary to miniaturize the solutions for the Phantom to hold them in a volume four times less than equivalent to that of a handball. A headache when one knows that deep bass depends primarily on the amount of air moved. The work of the designers was to purify its round shape, evocative of simplicity, while leaving apparent a radiator to the rear, this raw side suggesting the power.

once the baby is born, no question of entrusting its production to a subcontractor. Devialet has out of the earth a new plant in Châtelet-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, capable of manufacturing a Reactor every 49 seconds. "The difficulty to build such an enclosure is our best protection against those who would copy it, even more than our patents", explains Franck Lebouchard.

Exit the Apple Stores, hello Amazon

Rest to put it in the hands of the largest number of customers possible. For this, it is impossible to focus solely on direct sales and a few specialized distributors, as was the case at the beginning with the amps. Devialet will retain its 20 own stores, but expands the number of its partners in the world with - among others - the giant Amazon, a hundred Microsoft Stores in the United States, Harrods or in the Spring. Exit the Apple Stores, where the Reactor is in the competition too frontal with the HomePod. The links with the Fnac constrict on the other hand : the new models will be available in 60 stores, up from 15 previously. Passing a total of 460 to 1, 000 points of sale, the manufacturer is now targeting an audience that would never have crossed the threshold of their shops.

He, however, must continue to distinguish themselves. "In Fnac, we're going to keep the cabins listening specifically devoted to the Phantom, but we have imagined another original device easier to replicate," explains Olivier Garcia, director of the Group's products Fnac Darty. The Reactor will have their own piece of wall to put them forward without resort to a seller dedicated." To pass a tariff which remains premium, Devialet will benefit from a well-known phenomenon in marketing : the anchor. "The spirit of the consumers is anchored on the 2 500 euros to the Phantom, in front of which the 990 euros of the Reactor seem to be reasonable, rather than on the prices of models that are less readily comparable," explains Delphine Dion, Essec.

In sixty to Fnac, a section of wall will be devoted to putting in front of the speakers 'Reactor'.

Fnac Darty

It is the speakers Bose or Sonos, located only a few metres away, also have a solid reputation and are worth between two and three times less expensive... "They are not on the same segment and the market of the connected speakers is in steady growth for the past seven years. There is a place for all the world," says the director products.

More than one license in the bag

Without the equivalent ? It is in any case what pounds Devialet, with a great deal of slogans rowdy. It promises the "most pure". The Phantom is "implosif". The Reactor is called "unreasonable". "We are still very small. For emerge, it was imperative that our message is strong," explains Engnck Lebouchard. At the risk of scaring off customers worth loving great music, and layered atmospheres ? Unthinkable, because just like in fashion, this is the top of the range, which ensures the credibility of the brand.

These last have, therefore, recently received a personalised letter assuring them that their products would continue in the future to receive many updates and developments. The partnership launched in 2017 for a period of ten years between the manufacturer and the Paris Opera, including the opening of a shop at the palais Garnier and the sale of products in the name of two brands, is another way to reassure them.

And this is all the more important that the company does not stop there, his conquest of the general public. In Britain, it has sold a license to certain of its technologies to the operator Sky, which offers its guests a bar its labeled Devialet to 340 euros. According to the website Frenchweb, Free could offer a comparable solution to the customers of its future box unveiled in the coming days. And other licensing agreements are being discussed with Renault, in particular, in order to support the future vehicles of the brand. The geeks of Devialet have not ceased to make themselves heard.

Read our complete file

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ZOOM : the French competition wakes up

The success of the Phantom has given ideas to a few of the factors pregnant French the most famous. The breton Cabasse has unveiled its model Pearl and spherical white and connected also, able to shake your foundations to the sum of 2 790 euros. The AIO 3, designed by a Triangle, which is rectangular, less tape-to-eye and promises high-fidelity sound for 499 euros. This year, the evenings on new year's eve promise to be lively.
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