Monday, January 05, 2009

Escort C65: A High Performance Radar Detector for the Masses

Escort C65 looks like a black-version of the Beltronics RX65

Escort C65: A High Performance Radar Detector for the [Shopping] Masses

If ever there was an argument to be made about a product being produced by the "Belscort" company, the new $349 Escort C65, is it.

The Escort C65 is a radar detector designed specifically for shopping at "club wholesalers" such as BJ's Wholesale Club, Costco, and Sam's Club. Escort has no current plans to provide the C65 through other retail/Internet sales channels (although the Escort C65 does appear on their own corporate website and could conceivably appear on these mass retailers' websites).

For those already familiar with the Beltronics line of radar detectors, you'll immediately recognize that the Escort C65 appears very similar to a Beltronics Pro RX65, only its case is black.

The Escort 65 is essentially a hybrid product of both Beltronics and Escort and is expected to provide performance levels similar to both companies' (now considered) mid-range (priced) level of radar detectors, such as the Escort Passport 8500 X50, Beltronics Vector 995, or Beltronics Pro RX65. All of course are very good.

The current top-windshield-mount models are the Beltronics GX65, Beltronics STi Driver, and Escort Passport 9500ix.

It appears to me that by creating another model that doesn't include the name Passport in it, Escort is attempting to minimize [Passport] brand-erosion, while at the same time creating another sales distribution conduit for their [Escort-named] products (like Beltronics' Vector versus Beltronics Professional series), perhaps in the wake of Circuit City's recently declared bankruptcy (a large national Beltronics retailer).

I may be wrong, but it feels as though that could be a challenging task as the naming and appearance of the Escort C65 may confuse the consumer with Escort's or Beltronics' premium name-brands or may tend to blur the distinctions between each brand identity.

Perhaps it would have been better to refer to this new radar detector as a Cincinnati Microwave C65 by Escort, instead of an Escort C65.

I suspect Escort will rely on a sophisticated POP (point-of-purchase) display piece to convey the benefits/distinguishing characteristics of their new Escort 65 model as compared to other retail-packaged consumer-level radar detectors available at generalized large chain retailers.

I can only imagine some of the dialog one may hear at the electronics department of one of these stores. Perhaps it would go something like this:

Would-be consumer: Can the Escort C65 detect all 15 bands?

Wholesale club salesperson: Ah, I dunno...What's it say on the box?

Will such mass retailers adhere to an established MAP? What happens to "overstocks" if and when they should occur? What impact could a precipitous price drop or "blow-out" sale (by an otherwise unsuccessful mass-retailer) have on the overall lines of either Beltronics Professional or Escort Passport premium brands or their long-established specialized dealer networks?

Whether or not the Escort C65's launch will be successful for the long-term may largely depend on how well the these organizations understand such a product.

Radar detectors, especially higher-end models like the Escort C65, are very specialized versions of consumer electronics and consequently require a high-level of knowledge to sell effectively, best provided by specialized retailers, especially those models at a price point of the Escort C65 or beyond.

At this point, this particular Escort feels like it's more tactically than strategically positioned (and something that may have ultimately been better suited by the long-established and very fine Beltronics Vector series).

Online discussion:

Escort C65: A Radar Detector for the Shopping Masses

Veil Guy
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