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#1977277 - 10/22/12 08:52 PM Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
It seems that every day someone posts that they are unable to try out a Kawai model because no dealer is prepared to stock it within the prospective purchaser's area. This really is a great shame, and must be costing Kawai dearly in terms of lost sales. KJ puts a brave face on it, and his presence here, and willingness to troubleshoot, redresses the balance somewhat, but unfortunately this cannot really make up for the lack of units on the ground.

When we had our house built, the local rep for a well-known skylight brand, who is a friend, told me that they wanted to sell more sun tunnels - a newer line for them. He arranged with our builder for one to be installed in our house at a discount, if we would be prepared to show it to interested parties. If Kawai were to adopt this method, they could offer a discount or rebate to early purchasers of models that were unavailable in local stores, if those people would be willing to accept a certain number (or a specific period) of referrals and appointments when others could visit and test their piano.

This would not impinge on the existing store network as sales would only be handled through existing channels. Naturally, many details would need to be thought through, but generally I see only upsides for all involved. It would certainly be magnitudes cheaper than trying to expand the dealer network.

Just my 2 cents...
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
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"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
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#1977302 - 10/22/12 10:21 PM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 993
Loc: Southern California
The idea has merit. Here's another way to implement it: give a cash referral incentive to anyone who owns a Kawai in certain zip codes where there aren't any dealers within an hour's drive. This way the manufacturer doesn't pay anything up front, only when another purchase is made.

A check box on the warranty sign up can allow a person to opt in for this, in terms of being contacted by Kawai to host a stranger. Anyone who has a friend can at any time opt in for the referral, but will not be contacted to host a stranger.

Lots and lots of companies give referral bonuses along similar lines.
_________________________
my piano uploads

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#1977307 - 10/22/12 10:41 PM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2610
@voxpops,

I agree with everything you have mentioned here, as I ended up purchasing both of my Kawai digitals (i.e., EP3 / CA95) "sight unseen." The EP3 was bought online, and, the CA95 from a local store.

Without having played either model I knew for sure they were going to be the right choices in regards to touch, tone, and, features.

Many customers prefer to try or test pianos, in advance.

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#1977331 - 10/22/12 11:41 PM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: pv88]
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: pv88
Many customers prefer to try or test pianos, in advance.

I would certainly prefer to test in advance, but living where I do, I'd be having to make long journeys to find the models that interest me, and, in the case of Kawai, probably not be able to do so even then. I end up buying sight-unseen 90% of the time, and reselling (usually at a loss) what doesn't work for me. All very unsatisfactory.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
[HisKidd, May 2014]

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#1977423 - 10/23/12 05:03 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1336
Loc: The Netherlands
Hi Voxpops , interesting idea. When selling my MP6 I already had the feeling I was most of the time just a point of sales for Kawai, cause several people came to test the MP - that they could not see or test anywhere near and then bought an MP6 online with a discount. Waste of my time, but a handy way for potential customers to try the Kawai's somewhere in their region.

Also more than a year ago I tried a path of getting Kawai interested to do some representative work for them in my country to get the DP's better know and distributed. Exactly because I shared the frustration that so many others experience: Kawai makes great DP's , but the distribution/ display of these products is problematic. I put a lot of work and time in that project but NEVER got any response from Kawai EU ( Germany). Even a "We're not interested, but thanks for the effort" was to much to ask for.

The only explanation I have is that the Kawai DP unit is simply too small to be as visible and available everywhere as Roland / Yamaha are. Putting units in more shops and places would be too expensive and add too much stress on the availability of units for direct sales. But why don't they just tell it like it is , instead of staying numb on this issue ? Very old fashioned / conservative way of dealing with the market. Should Kawai take the logistic and financial risk to reach more shops and people and put more units out in the street ? Hard to say in these economic hard times. Under normal economic circumstances I would say yes, cause it's a chicken and egg game : not visible -> no sales , no sales -> no cloud to become more visible. You have to start somewhere to break the cycle. Undertake / Dealing = risk taking.

For the time being a solution like you propose - people display their private Kawai's for potential customers and get a certain discount in return - could be an option. I just doubt that when there is really a lot of interest - which is what your aiming at after all - it will take up too much of your time and private space. After all , you could get everybody in you private house - likable and not so likable...


Edited by JFP (10/23/12 05:05 AM)

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#1977455 - 10/23/12 07:18 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
As a maker of DP's Kawai are excellent ... as a vertically integrated international business Kawai is back in the stone age .... there is no easy fix as Kawai don't actually control a lot of their distribution and Kawai US and Kawai EU although technically owned by Kawai act as completely separate entities with no real cooperation with each other or Kawai Japan. Kawai US unit does itself and Kawai DP's a great disservice by supporting their handful of dealers at the expense of getting more models into the chains and online stores (ie: Why isn't the ES7 available at Sweetwater etc ? Hint ...Kawai want this model only sold through their dealers who often don't have it or are too far away from anyone who wants to buy it) It's all a bit of a basket case when compared to the global integrated operations of Yamaha and to a lesser extent (but still much better then Kawai) Roland. It's only Kawai AP's that keep them in the game at all which is unfortunate as there is absolutely nothing wrong with their DP's which are amongst the worlds best.
The other problem Kawai has (and all other manufacturers as well to varying degrees) is their lack of financial muscle. One might think they could fix things by simply getting more dealers right? Wrong ...dealers don't want to sell Kawai because they have to pay upfront for their floor stock. Yamaha are happy to provide floorstock to their large dealers and the chains at zero cost in order to "get their boards on the floor" and Roland will do this as well to a extent. Kawai simply can't afford to compete in that area so it's the smaller third tier dealers that tend to carry them and of course since they have to pay upfront for them they are likely to carry far less stock. Hence Kawai DP's are hard to find even inside Kawai dealers which are far fewer then Yamaha or Roland dealers ... and there lies the problem. A 1980's distribution model combined with a lack of marketing resources are what Kawai suffers from and I don't see it changing anytime soon I'm afraid unless the very conservative owners in Japan decide to make it happen which won't be until someone dies or they go broke.


Edited by Dr Popper (10/23/12 07:35 AM)
_________________________
"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally supported by but not beholden to various musical instrument manufactures including Yamaha

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#1977528 - 10/23/12 10:39 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
sandalholme Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 760
Loc: Dorset, UK
Having moaned about this in view of my experiences in the South (so-called affluent South!) of the UK, I agree Kawai need to sort out their distribution. Still to confirm from one dealer the availability of an ES7 in the near future, another may have one in December. If I were in a hurry I would have sealed a deal on the FP7F by now. That dealer - lovely unhurried demo/trial facilities, everything but Kawai - knows I will buy from them if I try my chosen DP there - but were unable/unwilling to stock Kawai.

There appears to be something in the corporate Kawai psyche that either looks down on the non-AP trade or doesn't have the confidence in their DP products to invest in a half-decent distribution/marketing service. I only continue to keep Kawai in the frame for 3 reasons: reputation on this forum; my personal experience of the RX2 and good support from Kawai; my RX2 technician (independent) who is a gigging musician and is very enthusiastic about his MP6. Otherwise I would have dismissed Kawai in terms of "may be superb but life's too short to spend so much time tracking one down."

It's a great shame, but it is also applicable to Kawai APs. Those in the know are aware of the quality of Kawai APs, but others have been very dubious about the K Kawai name and wonder why not a Yamaha etc. Until they hear it, of course, or, in the case of pianists, until they play it.

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#1977530 - 10/23/12 10:48 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: Dr Popper]
KLSinCT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/12
Posts: 148
Loc: Stonington, CT USA
Originally Posted By: Dr Popper
As a maker of DP's Kawai are excellent ... as a vertically integrated international business Kawai is back in the stone age .... there is no easy fix as Kawai don't actually control a lot of their distribution and Kawai US and Kawai EU although technically owned by Kawai act as completely separate entities with no real cooperation with each other or Kawai Japan. Kawai US unit does itself and Kawai DP's a great disservice by supporting their handful of dealers at the expense of getting more models into the chains and online stores (ie: Why isn't the ES7 available at Sweetwater etc ? Hint ...Kawai want this model only sold through their dealers who often don't have it or are too far away from anyone who wants to buy it) It's all a bit of a basket case when compared to the global integrated operations of Yamaha and to a lesser extent (but still much better then Kawai) Roland. It's only Kawai AP's that keep them in the game at all which is unfortunate as there is absolutely nothing wrong with their DP's which are amongst the worlds best.
The other problem Kawai has (and all other manufacturers as well to varying degrees) is their lack of financial muscle. One might think they could fix things by simply getting more dealers right? Wrong ...dealers don't want to sell Kawai because they have to pay upfront for their floor stock. Yamaha are happy to provide floorstock to their large dealers and the chains at zero cost in order to "get their boards on the floor" and Roland will do this as well to a extent. Kawai simply can't afford to compete in that area so it's the smaller third tier dealers that tend to carry them and of course since they have to pay upfront for them they are likely to carry far less stock. Hence Kawai DP's are hard to find even inside Kawai dealers which are far fewer then Yamaha or Roland dealers ... and there lies the problem. A 1980's distribution model combined with a lack of marketing resources are what Kawai suffers from and I don't see it changing anytime soon I'm afraid unless the very conservative owners in Japan decide to make it happen which won't be until someone dies or they go broke.


I couldn't have said it better myself! Thanks for your very thoughtful post, Dr. P! thumb
_________________________
Kevin L. Spindler
Early Keyboard Instruments
Stonington, CT
Harpsichords & Clavichords
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#1977533 - 10/23/12 10:53 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1336
Loc: The Netherlands
Again my opinion is that Kawai is simply not able (due to lack of size , cloud and money) to offer DP's in shops dotted everywhere around the world. They have to make their pick of where it is most feasible to get some demo-units / stock in place. I also repeat that it will stay that way, unless a choice is made to either be happy with the current situation (bit conservative - but still a choice) ; or take a big risk and invest in getting more units out and in shops everywhere. Problem is that it could kill your company if it doesn't pay off.

Tough choice , especially nowadays. If the management was very progressive and confident in their products , they could give it a try. On the other hand it would mean playing with the companies finances and playing with the jobs of the Kawai employees. Personally I would try to get all noses in the same direction and take the bet , but who am I, I'm comfortably not in their shoes - just safely making comments on the sidelines ;-)

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#1977633 - 10/23/12 04:01 PM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: Dr Popper]
ONfrank Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/11
Posts: 98
Originally Posted By: Dr Popper
As a maker of DP's Kawai are excellent ... as a vertically integrated international business Kawai is back in the stone age .... there is no easy fix as Kawai don't actually control a lot of their distribution and Kawai US and Kawai EU although technically owned by Kawai act as completely separate entities with no real cooperation with each other or Kawai Japan. Kawai US unit does itself and Kawai DP's a great disservice by supporting their handful of dealers at the expense of getting more models into the chains and online stores (ie: Why isn't the ES7 available at Sweetwater etc ? Hint ...Kawai want this model only sold through their dealers who often don't have it or are too far away from anyone who wants to buy it) It's all a bit of a basket case when compared to the global integrated operations of Yamaha and to a lesser extent (but still much better then Kawai) Roland. It's only Kawai AP's that keep them in the game at all which is unfortunate as there is absolutely nothing wrong with their DP's which are amongst the worlds best.
The other problem Kawai has (and all other manufacturers as well to varying degrees) is their lack of financial muscle. One might think they could fix things by simply getting more dealers right? Wrong ...dealers don't want to sell Kawai because they have to pay upfront for their floor stock. Yamaha are happy to provide floorstock to their large dealers and the chains at zero cost in order to "get their boards on the floor" and Roland will do this as well to a extent. Kawai simply can't afford to compete in that area so it's the smaller third tier dealers that tend to carry them and of course since they have to pay upfront for them they are likely to carry far less stock. Hence Kawai DP's are hard to find even inside Kawai dealers which are far fewer then Yamaha or Roland dealers ... and there lies the problem. A 1980's distribution model combined with a lack of marketing resources are what Kawai suffers from and I don't see it changing anytime soon I'm afraid unless the very conservative owners in Japan decide to make it happen which won't be until someone dies or they go broke.


The value of having an official B&M dealer is questionable when they don't carry any actual stock. My dealer generally only has a couple of the console Kawai DPs on display if you're lucky and catch them at the right time.

In most cases, a customer would be buying blind and at that point what's the difference between having an official dealer or ordering online other than having extra roadblocks in the way for potential customers?

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#1977742 - 10/23/12 09:18 PM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: ONfrank]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
Originally Posted By: ONfrank


The value of having an official B&M dealer is questionable when they don't carry any actual stock. My dealer generally only has a couple of the console Kawai DPs on display if you're lucky and catch them at the right time.

In most cases, a customer would be buying blind and at that point what's the difference between having an official dealer or ordering online other than having extra roadblocks in the way for potential customers?


Your 100 % bang on the money there .... Kawai dealer don't carry stock and yet Kawai don't allow the online stores with liberal return policy's to stock their most sought after DP's. ..... go figure.
_________________________
"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally supported by but not beholden to various musical instrument manufactures including Yamaha

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#1977743 - 10/23/12 09:20 PM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: sandalholme]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
Originally Posted By: sandalholme


There appears to be something in the corporate Kawai psyche that either looks down on the non-AP trade or doesn't have the confidence in their DP products to invest in a half-decent distribution/marketing service.
It's a great shame, but it is also applicable to Kawai APs. Those in the know are aware of the quality of Kawai APs, but others have been very dubious about the K Kawai name and wonder why not a Yamaha etc. Until they hear it, of course, or, in the case of pianists, until they play it.



Yeah if you think Kawai have distribution issues with their DP's ...it's nothing on their AP headaches ....
_________________________
"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally supported by but not beholden to various musical instrument manufactures including Yamaha

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#1977820 - 10/24/12 01:34 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: Dr Popper]
ONfrank Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/11
Posts: 98
Originally Posted By: Dr Popper
Originally Posted By: ONfrank


The value of having an official B&M dealer is questionable when they don't carry any actual stock. My dealer generally only has a couple of the console Kawai DPs on display if you're lucky and catch them at the right time.

In most cases, a customer would be buying blind and at that point what's the difference between having an official dealer or ordering online other than having extra roadblocks in the way for potential customers?


Your 100 % bang on the money there .... Kawai dealer don't carry stock and yet Kawai don't allow the online stores with liberal return policy's to stock their most sought after DP's. ..... go figure.


"...but we can order that for you if you want one!" is not something that a potential customer should hear each time they drop in at the store. Well gee thanks, why can't I do this at home with a few mouse clicks? What do I need you for?

There's not much value add for a dealer that's an inconvenient 30 minute+ drive away if you can't even try before you buy!

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#1977860 - 10/24/12 05:20 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
Bogs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/10
Posts: 133
Let me share my experience about the Kawai distribution. Luckily there is an official Kawai distributor in my country. Unfortunately, it is the only piano shop that stocks Kawais and it's in the capital city. I had to travel 400km [a 7h train ride] to play-test a Kawai DP. And the worst part is that the dealer only had two DP to play-test: the CN33 and a CL-something ! No RM, top of the line action [back then]! I would have at least expected a model for each keyboard action...I bought the CA-63 sight unseen, only playing on the CN33.

I think Kawai should provide at least their official dealers with some demo-units. Over at the Yamaha store, they had all 3 models of the CLP4xx to play...Of course pianoworld forum readers would make a buying decision based on other facts as well ;), or go to great lengths to find a Kawai dealer that stocks their model, but piano teachers that go in with their students out of their free time, or parents that come with their children will buy the ones they can play-test.
_________________________
old Gaveau upright & Kawai CA63; previously Korg SP250

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#1977945 - 10/24/12 09:59 AM Re: Kawai's Distribution Issues - A Suggestion [Re: voxpops]
jarosujo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/12/12
Posts: 237
Loc: Slovakia
Totally agree with above posts. I checked two music stores in my city and guess what - plenty of Yamahas but only one Kawai (CA13). So I went to capital city to check another 2 stores and again the same situation (just one Kawai CL-36). I bought CL-36, because I really like it's action and sound. Kawai offers great products, but they should improve marketing activities.
_________________________
Yamaha NP-V80 (sold)
Yamaha DGX640 (sold)
Kawai CL-36
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