In an exclusive interview, Mark Gooday (pictured), managing director of audio brand Meters Music, gives Sean Hannam an update on the company’s progress since it launched at CES in Las Vegas 18 months ago…
Q: It’s been 18 months since you launched the Meters Music audio brand at CES 2017, with the OV-1 on-ear headphones. How’s it going?
Mark Gooday: It’s a different world. Being a small, brand new, privately-funded company, it’s been a shock to see the size of the market and how much money you need to spend on marketing.
Q: The headphone market is competitive and overcrowded, but, to be fair, with the OV-1 product, you had a point of difference – namely the patented VU meter, which creates a striking design…
MG: Thank you – on a global basis, everyone thought so, but we still had to get the right partners in the right countries to support the brand and the marketing and get our story out there.
Q: In the UK, you partnered with distributor Exertis Unlimited last year, but that relationship has come to an end, hasn’t it?
MG: Yes – both parties went for it, but it was too soon for both of us. They were too big and we weren’t ready and didn’t understand the market. We hadn’t spend enough money on marketing to build a brand, to make their job easier, and we expected too much from them – it was too early.
The same thing’s happened in four or five countries – everyone was saying, ‘these are going to sell millions’, but we’ve sold 20,000-odd headphones, which isn’t bad for a little company, and we have an amazing following.
Q: Your parent company, Ashdown Engineering, produces musical instrument amplifiers for bands including U2, the Foo Fighters, System of a Down, Jamiroquai, Bastille and Biffy Clyro. Several music-industry luminaries have been queuing up to sing the praises of your OV-1 and flagship OV-1B wireless Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones, including Stevie Wonder, U2 bassist Adam Clayton, artist/producer David Holmes and studio engineer Emre Ramazanoglu…
MG: Everyone loves us – we’ve very fortunate. Since we parted company with Exertis, we’ve gone into a lot of our musical [instrument] retailers. We’ve opened up into that market and a lot of the stores have sold out immediately and are reordering.
We’re building the brand in the direction that we should have taken from day one – music – but it’s going to take longer that I imagined.
The bottom line is I’ve got to spend a lot more money on marketing than I ever anticipated, but we’re going to spend our time promoting the products properly and getting them reviewed.
Q: Are you still keen to sell the headphones through the electrical retail channel?
MG: I’ve got to – we’re in Selfridges, which is lovely. We need to do more marketing and create a consumer swell. We’re doing well in stores in Dubai, France, Portugal, Poland and Canada and we’ve used [last month’s] Munich High End Show for a big push in Germany. Having distributors in every country is key.
Q: Do you want a new distributor for the UK?
MG: Yes – we need to have one. A year-and-a-half-in, the brand has more recognition, but we’ve got to spend some money and, whoever does it, we’ll make sure we support them financially with marketing. In our first financial year, we’re profitable, which is pretty good going – we’ve spent massive amounts on approvals, design, patents and trademarks. We’re making money and we’ve got a nice order book. There’s a massive margin on the products.
Q: So, 18 months in, are you glad you launched into the CE sector?
MG: Yes – I’m more determined than ever. I’ve got to make it happen. It’s not something I can give up on, even if I wanted to.