Survey: Piano & Keyboard Market
‘If You Expect Things Won’t Get Better, They Probably Won’t’
MMR recently polled over 100 piano & keyboard dealers to get their input on the state of the market. While some of the data would suggest a “more of the same” status, across the board (the difference between those reporting up, down, and static sales was a whopping seven percent), most we heard from shared positive expectations for the coming quarter, though with a keen awareness of changes to the retail landscape and the mindset of the end-user.
Perhaps Jo Beth Dellinger of East Syracuse, New York’s Artist Pianos, Ltd. said it best we she outlined her own philosophy:
“Expectations can get you into trouble. My motto has always been: hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. We move forward following our plan for 2011, and hope that it works to hold us steady. I find that if you expect things won’t get better, they probably won’t. If you blunder along believing that it will improve, and make decisions based on that belief, you can be in trouble. We make a plan, and modify that plan de- pending on how the year progresses.”
How are sales, compared to this time last year?
Have you noticed any trends in the piano & keyboard market?
Grands for the home market are DEAD, while churches are buying a few. Last month over 90 percent of our sales were digital. Not just cheap stuff – expensive digital grands, Avant Grands, but digital nonetheless. I can’t remember the last time I sold a console piano or a grand over 6’ and we stock all sizes in four markets. Bill Jones Bill Jones Music Knoxville, Tenn.
The interior design market has dried up significantly. Most interest in piano is coming from Europeans, Asians, and La- tino families. While economic/financial issues still prevail, declining sales mostly stem from another change in attitude/ lifestyle and interest in learning/play- ing the piano. Most Americans view the time and patience required as being ir- relevant. The Institutional piano market has also been difficult, but has continued to produce sales. Also very relevant is the severely reduced margins generated on the small number of sales. Bob Luptak Steinway Piano Gallery Boca Raton, Fla.
We are seeing more activity in the higher priced point instruments than we had been seeing last summer and early fall. That has been the case for both digital and acoustic pianos. Bruce Bannister Samuel Music Effingham, Ill.
We’re seeing a shift towards acoustic pianos, as we see more and more immigrants. The Orientals and Indians, and Middle Easterners are very traditional and very willing to follow the piano teacher’s preference, which is the acoustic over the digital piano. Tom Buglio Taylors Music Store West Chester, Pa.
What are “hot” pricepoints for sales right now?
What are your expectations for piano sales in the coming months?
I think that as the economy continues to improve, sales in the piano market will also improve, however… I have noticed that consumers are doing what they can to save money. David Shibley Napa Music Supply Napa, Calif.
Hopefully a slight trend upwards, if em- ployment continues to rise, and discretionary spending by consumers increase. Our businesses will welcome the change. Mike Roth Shirk Piano & Organ Company Inc. Mishawaka, Ind.
Up. When the stock market is up, sales are up. Jo Woods Woods and Son Piano Co Brighton, Colo.
Additional thoughts on the piano & keyboard market?
In our market only two of nine piano stores remain. The message about piano study and brain development goes un- heard by most because now there are too few to get it out. We’re left to concentrate on the teachers, churches, schools, colleges, and others who already use and need pianos and will want the better instru- ments we focus on. We still sell the piano study=brain development message hard, but will often lose out to the free acoustic pianos and the brand name digitals at box store margins. Our concentration has to be spent on the other end of the real world piano market that needs us. Jim Foster Foster Family Music Center LLC Bettendorf, Iowa
Building value in a piano is more difficult; low priced keyboards and old used pianos continue to undermine the mar- ket. Customers believe they can give their family a musical education for a few hundred dollars. Bob Auletta The Piano Outlet Oxnard, Calif.
Piano manufactures & retailers must move acoustic pianos away from being a consumer piece of household furniture back to it’s original intent… pianos are sold because someone wants to learn to play one. George Benson Perzina Acoustic Pianos/Omega Digital Pianos Franklin Square, N.Y.