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Wal-Mart sounds out Quincy Jones
Discounter to sell high-end sound system developed in collaboration with famed music producer.
March 31, 2005: 9:34 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - In a bid to court more affluent shoppers, discount behemoth Wal-Mart will introduce a high-end home entertainment sound system that was developed in collaboration with Grammy-winning music legend Quincy Jones, according to a published story Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the world's largest retailer will first debut the $498 "Q-Line Silver" surround-sound music system on Sept. 1 in a limited number of its stores to gauge customer response to the product.

The paper quoted Wal-Mart (Research) spokeswoman, Karen Burke, as saying that the retailer was "always looking for new items that we think will appeal to our customers and this falls into that category."

The Q-Line sound system, which is made by Springfield, Mo.-based electronics manufacturer SLS International, was developed in conjunction with Jones who is famous for producing songs by such music icons as Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson.

According to the Journal, the move by Wal-Mart signals the retailer's increased focus on attracting higher-end shoppers with more upscale offerings at a time when many of its lower-end customers are being hit with both higher prices at the pump and tepid wage growth.

The retailer's online unit Walmart.com late last year made similar efforts by offering upscale items such as cashmere sweaters, high-end electronics like flat-screen TVs, portable multi-media systems and even Shiatsu massage chairs exclusively for Web shoppers over the holidays.

Wal-Mart is also trying to strengthen its consumer electronics department, the paper said, in a bid to stave off increasing competition from No. 1 electronics retailer Best Buy (Research), which has become more aggressive in pricing, selection and advertising, the report said.

Wal-Mart most recently introduced its own private-label electronics line, which includes 42-inch plasma TVs, MP3 players, DVD recorders and LCD monitors, the paper said.

CNN/Money could not immediately reach Wal-Mart for comment.  Top of page

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