When I grow up, I’d like to own a beautiful, and great sounding, piano.
My favourite for both qualities is Steinway, one of the oldest American piano companies, and the only one left that still makes pianos in the United States. Steinway’s American manufacturing operation survives because the company operates a 3-tier, 3-brand, good-better-best strategy.
Steinway & Sons – best pianos, made in New York
Boston Piano – very good pianos, made according to Steinway specifications at the Kawai factory in Japan
Essex Piano – good pianos, made according to Steinway specifications at one of the best Chinese piano factories
Even though there are cheaper Japanese options than Boston Piano, and much cheaper Chinese options than Essex, I’m very likely to go with the Steinway/Boston brand duo when I make my big purchase. It’s all down to a simple promotion that says so much about their brand and a connection with their consumers.
The promotion: buy any new Boston or Essex piano, and get the option to trade it in for 100% of the purchase price off the value of a new Steinway grand piano. For example, buy an upright Boston piano for $7000, trade it in for $7000 off a Steinway grand within 10 years.
Promotions are often throwaway tactics, but this is a promo that speaks volumes about the brand. It gives a very concrete reason-to-believe that says:
- A Steinway-designed-and-built piano is an investment
- It’s such a good investment that we’ll buy it back from you, and we know we won’t lose much money doing so
- We’ve perfected piano building, it’s very difficult for anyone to come up with technology or design that will date or depreciate your piano.
- We’re certain our lower-tier and mid-tier brands will satisfy you versus the competition at the same price
- We would like your relationship with Steinway to be for a lifetime
- We’re certain that if you can eventually afford it (money and space), you’ll want to upgrade to full-fledged Steinway
It’s the last statement that really gets to me. Steinway is saying:
George, we’re doing everything we can with this promise. We believe in you. You need to come up with a minimum $18,000 kitty for the piano of your dreams, and however many $100K’s extra for a house that fits it. You have 10 years. Go for it.