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#1266610 - 09/11/09 06:05 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: Jeff Clef]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef

I agree that the ineptitude of marketing, creating a demand, is a big contributor. I can't think of the last time I saw a magazine ad, TV commercial, or billboard intended to create a demand for pianos. When they muscle aside beer commercials on SuperBowl day and pianos are marketed as making the guys a hot property with the young ladies (or just that being a musician is the fulfilment of a dream), we'll start seeing those constipated inventories start to move... but I'm not holding my breath waiting for it.


I'd just like to re-iterate that marketing, while commonly thought of as advertising, is much more than that. If you were to ask piano manufacturers why they did next to no advertising, I think you would be told that there isn't budget for it. I think what they told you would be true. Honestly, I don't think it would accomplish much either. The prospective market is such a tiny and illusive target, and most young guys don't feel that playing Chopin will make them hot property with the ladies. I think those young guys are right too.

But what if, instead of asking them about their lack of advertising, you were to ask the manufacturers these questions about marketing aspects that do not carry a price tag? What would the answers be?

Why do you make so many models of such varying quality? Why don't you trim and prune, weed out the losers, produce only those you know to be the best, and let the market gravitate to those and choose you because of them?

Why do you solicit zero input from your rank-and-file customers? Why don't you use warranty registration as a way to cultivate their loyalty and learn from their picks, pans and preferences?

Why do you turn a deaf ear to professional musicians and professional retailers who make explicit suggestions to you either directly or through your concert prep people as to what changes at the production level might improve your pianos?

Why do you churn the retail market by ending associations with retailers who have represented you with integrity and loyalty in favor of other retailers and retailer groups who promise you the moon?

Why do you invest so little in providing your sellers with the training that will enable them to present your image to the buying public in a professional manner without negative selling?

Why do you recycle individuals who have failed elsewhere to direct your company's distribution into the future? If somone has cratered one company, why do you expect that your fate in his hands will be any different?

Why don't you ensure that there is one and only one message on the lips of each and every individual who represents your brand in the chain, and that the message is a clear statement of your philosophy, your design intent, your fair and consistent pricing, and your orientation toward the complete satisfaction of the customer?

These things, rather than glossy ads in leisure magazines, are the marketing issues that should matter the most, and don't seem to matter enough.

_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1266613 - 09/11/09 06:08 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: Furtwangler]
AJF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1532
Loc: Toronto
I think that many of the high end makers also over estimate the general buying public's ability to discern quality. Cause in point: Budweiser beer to connisseurs is garbage yet out sells just about everything. McDonalds restaurants have the highest profit margins in the restaurant industry and many of the most plotless banal films coming out of Hollywood top the box office. And then there's pop music........

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#1266615 - 09/11/09 06:09 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano makers? [Re: FogVilleLad]
acortot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 426
Loc: Italy
you know, this is happening over and over again, historically.

we dress-up in shoes and clothing and buy consumer goods made in third-world countries where children and workers in general are treated like slaves, because they are CHEAP and a 'good buy'

because of financial see-saw games your dollar is a day's wage in some countries, so you make those workers happy in another country but your own workers go broke.

you go out and demand to buy a grand piano, which has thousands of parts and takes forever to build, for a few thousand dollars, because it is 'convenient'

well, consider that all of this 'convenience' in going to be paid for in the long run, in my opinion.
_________________________
rhythm must be inborn

An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

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#1266618 - 09/11/09 06:17 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: Furtwangler]
Pianohero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 151
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I started in the industry 16 years ago, the sky was falling then too and from what my older colleagues tell me, it was going on for years before that.
High quality pianos have never been affordable, I wish the wasn't the case but it is.
Most things from Europe are expensive in the country, I can't think of a Europeon car that sells for $15,000, most are like BMW or Mercedes. I'm sure in Europe they sell cheaper ones. Cars are cheap, they're an exceptionally good deal for what you get in terms of machinery, engineering etc. but they sell tens of thousands of them.

As far as marketing goes, I've heard that for years. It may be true that not everyone is familiar with Bosendorfer unless they're pretty deep into pianos but that true of many products, how many of you know what Bertram builds?

As many of you said, these companies have been in business for many years. One thing that experience tells you is that some years will be great, others not so great. In just my 16 years, I've been through this 3 times (1993,2000,2009)


Edited by Cadillackid (09/11/09 06:20 PM)
_________________________
Former salesperson for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe, Kimball, Charles R. Walter, Mason & Hamlin, Roland and Korg.

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#1266632 - 09/11/09 07:01 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: Pianohero]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1476
Loc: Danville, California
"how many of you know what Bertram builds?"

I happen to know what Bertram builds and in fact a friend of mine in So Cal owns one. And that is a very good question, by the way, Cadillackid.

The answer would be interesting to know - and the real question should be this:

"How many prospective buyers in the target audience for Bertram are aware of the brand, know what it stands for and would consider a Bertram should they be in the market for a high-end motor yacht?"

That is an apt analogy.

So, as applied to the high-end segment of the piano industry, one would ask:

"What is the awareness of and perception of our brand (e.g. Bluthner, Bechstein, Grotrian, Feurich, Forster, Steingraeber et al) among the target audience of consumers who might be in a position to select an instrument in our price and quality range in the reasonable future?"

If that awareness is virtually zero - and I guarantee you it is - then you have a problem. And mass consumer advertising (such as TV commercials on the Super Bowl) is not the answer.
These companies are too small to afford mass marketing campaigns of that sort. But that is ok - they don't need to do mass marketing. But they need to do some marketing, of whatever description you feel appropriate.

That is, unless like some their order books are filled. Then this is a moot discussion.

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#1266839 - 09/12/09 02:45 AM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: turandot]
swampwiz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 561
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Originally Posted By: turandot
most young guys don't feel that playing Chopin will make them hot property with the ladies. I think those young guys are right too.


I beg to differ a bit. I once dated a woman who took me to a party of her colleagues, where the going joke was that her not-liked boss had the nickname Charlie Brown (he really did resemble him), so I got to the keyboard and started playing "Linus and Lucy". I was a hit at the party, and later at my girldriend's place. cool

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#1266851 - 09/12/09 03:07 AM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: turandot]
swampwiz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 561
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Originally Posted By: turandot
The piano industry may not recycle pianos, but it sure does recycle personnel, and then there are the retailer owners, some of whom change lines and representations almost as often as they change their shorts. Same with prices. They'll sell you a model from maker R for $$$ telling you it's a keeper. Six months later they'll be closing it out as stale news for $$ and heralding the arrival of their new standard bearer: maker Q


So true. I went and visited the old place where I bought my Charles Walter, from a salesman who was not the greasy guy who could sell anything, but a real piano guy, with the disposition of a church deacon. He told me why the CW was such a great instrument, and I believed him, and loved that piano every minute. It turns out that when the local license for the Steinway & Yahama brands was open (because the place that had been in business for over a century got flooded after Katrina), this place snapped it up, and all of sudden all the odd brands like CW, Schimmel, Vogel, and yes Bosie, were considered as not so good anymore. mad At least they were discounting their Vogel 177 pretty well.

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#1266856 - 09/12/09 03:22 AM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: turandot]
Rob Sloan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 4
DISCLAIMER: I AM A MARKETEER

Of a completely different sort of product (networking equipment..) That said, pianos can be magical - the guy just starts playing the piano in in the corner of the bar and the ladies swoon... (and so goes the tale.) But to do these cost effectively, they need to be viral - perhaps with humor - spread on youtube (which doesn't happen by accident - mostly.) In short, it takes effort - which is easy to justify if there is return - but this take faith ;-)

Try it once, good luck.

work with it, and it can be very powerful!

Rob


Edited by Rob Sloan (09/12/09 03:23 AM)

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#1266868 - 09/12/09 04:12 AM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: Furtwangler]
ConcertEtudes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/06/09
Posts: 82
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Wow - well said Robert.

One big problem facing makers such as Bosendorfer and particularly the likes of Bechstein and Bluthner is that they think their brands are fairly well known.

I can assure you this is not true. Quite the opposite. My fellow adult students and piano teachers have never heard of some of the high-end European brands!! What do you think is the awareness among casual piano enthusiasts?

This is a common problem among manufacturers of many products - not only in the musical instruments industry. I could share stories about food manufacturers who, when learning of the facts of their low brand awareness, were utterly devastated. Sad, but true.



Totally agree. I did not know about Bechstein, Bluthner, and many other brands until I started reading this forum, and I have been learning piano for over 10 years.

Also I feel that Asian families rarely buy brands besides Steinway, Kawai, and Yamaha (brand recognition thing?), and due to the faster economic growth, Asians have been driving the luxury goods market in the last decade or so...

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#1266906 - 09/12/09 07:26 AM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: ConcertEtudes]
ChrisVenables Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 727
Loc: Hampshire, England
Good pianos last too long.
_________________________
Tech. & Partner: Venables Pianos
Yamaha Piano UK main dealer and Grand Piano Centre
Stocking new Yamaha, Brodmann and Venables & Son

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#1266909 - 09/12/09 07:36 AM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: ConcertEtudes]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5070
Loc: Olympia, Washington
As I read through these posts a couple things occur to me. First, when I was starting out in this business back in the 1960s most entry level pianos would have been considered junk by today’s standards. Even the middle range of the market was nothing to get really excited about. For the pianist of advanced, or advancing, skills it was necessary to head toward the top end of the market.

By comparison even today’s entry level pianos are significantly better instruments. The computer and automated machinery has made this possible. That and the adaptation of some of those lower cost components we see frequently maligned here. There are a number of Asian pianos available at quite reasonable prices that put to shame many of the mid-priced pianos of the 1960s and 1970s. And there are a few that rival the European pianos that were available at the time. In other words to get a piano of reasonable performance it is no longer necessary to spend a king’s ransom.

Second, pianos tend to last for a while. I see the analogy being made with the car industry. But cars have a rather limited lifespan when compared to a piano of reasonable quality. In the U.S. both the car market and the piano market are saturated. Still, the car market more-or-less thrives. Cars wear out or are compared with new cars having significantly improved performance and/or desirable features.

Contrast this with the piano market in which we can find instruments made to essentially the same acoustical and structural design they had in the 1870s and 1880s. They are made faster and somewhat better because of that automated machinery I mentioned above but they offer little incentive to the owner of a reasonably good piano to upgrade. Upgrade to what? So the industry writes off a significant portion of its potential market to the instruments it built forty or eighty or more years ago.

Third, the music industry (not just the piano industry) has allowed music education in our public schools to languish. Even with all the research that is being done on finding a causal link between the early study of musical instruments (and in particular piano and keyboard) it is a rare school administrator or school board member who is aware of any of it. Can you imagine what would happen if even one study found that a young boy or girl being taught to play some sport enhanced their intellectual abilities and improved their learning capabilities?

Yes, lifestyles are changing but in part that is due to the significantly better marketing efforts of competitive toys and activities.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1266931 - 09/12/09 08:51 AM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano mak [Re: Del]
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10346
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Great post Del.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1267221 - 09/12/09 07:01 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano makers? [Re: FogVilleLad]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
It is unlikely that Bosendorfer, Fazioli, et. al. can build materially more pianos than they do without compromising that which has made them noteworthy. Take the total costs of that limited production (about 300 in Bosendorfer's case), add to that a reasonable return on investment and you arrive at a figure. If Bosendorfer was artificially "jacking up the wholesale pricing" to make uncommon profits they would not have needed BAG or Yamaha to bail them out.

Apply a traditional markup and you arrive at a certain MSRP. Market conditions and dealer positions will dictate degrees of discounting.

Kurtman is suggesting either thinner margins at the manufacturer and the retailer and or supply side thinking of selling more pianos "let's make it up in volume". Supply side thinking is not in the cards for Tier 1 type instruments. There is just not that kind of elasticity in the retail market and the manufacturing side of top tier pianos.

It is my understanding that the top tier manufactureres ie. Bosendorfer and Fazioli are selling all the pianos they are making.

Top tier pianos are not now and never have intended to be the average Joe's piano.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

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#1267230 - 09/12/09 07:35 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano makers? [Re: Marty Flinn]
Steve Cohen Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10346
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Marty, you hit the nail on the head.

This is not a "make it up in volume" issue.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1267248 - 09/12/09 07:57 PM Re: Is the end near for German & high-end European piano makers? [Re: Steve Cohen]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13976
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
It is my understanding that the top tier manufactureres ie. Bosendorfer and Fazioli are selling all the pianos they are making.


Yes, and there's a few others...

But what really counts is what's going out the door at dealer level. Manufacturers often sell several units at once, only few makes would be among those at retail leve.

There, perhaps will be the biggest change in future and I have some aweful premonitions of what lies ahead for some.

Norbert frown
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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