Harvey Norman fears consumer confusion could lose sales

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman’s biggest fear in the lead up to the digital TV switchover is that confusion amongst the general public will lead to a loss of sales, according to the retail group’s executive director David Ackery.

Speaking at the Get Ready for Digital TV conference today, Harvey Norman executive director David Ackery stressed the need for a unified and clear message from the industry so that consumers don’t become overwhelmed or misinformed.

Ackery spoke of the confusion that will permeate the shop floor once the advertisements begin playing this weekend. Customers will not come into store armed with their television, or even the specifications, he said, but they will need to know if what they’ve already got is sufficient, or if they need more, and the retailers will be the source of the answers.

“Once clarity occurs, and everyone gets it, from the person in the street to the salesperson, then uptake happens,” said Ackery.

“There has to be a clear, real message to everyone in this change. We need one message, and it has to be truthful, because if the consumer is confused there will be no spend.

“If the message isn’t coming down, if we’re dealing with too many vested interests — we won’t walk away — but it won’t be easy.”

Ackery made it clear that the ‘we’ he talks about is not just Harvey Norman, but all retailers. At one point during his presentation, Ackery singled out Narta national AV manager Justin Pinner and said that his salespeople, from JB Hi-Fi, Clive Peeters, David Jones and Bing Lee will also have to deal with this.

By doing this, acknowledging the competition, Ackery demonstrated the unity that is needed from the major stakeholders.

This unity may be an elusive panacea, however, as Ackery himself noted that already during the conference there had been tension between various interested parties, especially the free-to-air networks and the pay TV providers.

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