Global Piano Market: Market Driver and Restraint
The first piano factory in China is said to have been established in 1895, in Shanghai (perhaps by the British?). During the 1950s, the Communists consolidated the country’s piano manufacturing into four government-owned factories: Shanghai, Beijing, and Dongbei (means “northeast”) in the northern part of the country, and Guangzhou Pearl River in the south. Piano making, though industrial, remained primitive well into the 1990s. In that decade, the government of China began to open the country’s economy to foreign investment, first only to partnerships with the government, and later to completely private concerns.
As China’s economy has opened up, the nation’s rising middle and upper classes have created a sharp increase in demand for pianos. Tempted by the enormous potential of the Chinese domestic market, as well as by the lure of cheap goods manufactured for the West, foreign interests have built new piano factories in China, bought existing factories, or contracted with existing factories for the manufacture of pianos. The government has also poured money into its own factories to make them more quality competitive and to accommodate the growing demand.
Global Piano Market: Key Takeaways
The worldwide changes in the piano industry are making it more difficult to advise piano shoppers. For many years, the paradigm for piano quality has been an international peck-ing order: pianos from Russia, China, and Indonesia at the bottom; followed by Korea, Japan, and Eastern Europe; and, finally, Western Europe at the top, with pianos from the U.S. scattered here and there, depending on the brand. This pecking order has never been foolproof, but it has served a generation of piano buyers well enough as a rule of thumb.
Now this order is being disturbed by globalization. High-end and lowend makers are, to some extent, adopting each other’s methods and narrowing the differences between them. On the one hand, some Western European and American makers of high-end pianos are partially computerizing the manufacture of their “hand-built” pianos, quietly sourcing parts and subassemblies from China, and developing less expensive product lines in Eastern Europe and Asia. On the other hand, some Korean and Chinese makers are importing parts and technology from Germany, Japan, and the U.S., producing pianos that sometimes rival the performance of more expensive pianos from the West. Global alliances are bringing new products to market that are more hybridized than anything we’ve seen before. Although the old pecking order still has some validity, the number of exceptions is increasing, causing temporary confusion in the marketplace until a new order emerges.
Global Piano Market: Forecast by Nature
At the same time that the range of quality differences is narrowing, the range of prices is widening, bringing into greater prominence issues of “value.” Eastern European brands have emerged as “value” alternatives to Western European brands, the latter becoming frightfully expensive due to high labor costs and the rapid appreciation of the euro against the dollar. Some of the better pianos from China, Korea, and Indonesia have become value alternatives to Japanese pianos. Brands that don’t scream “value” are being squeezed out of the market.
Global Piano Market: Forecast by Application
While the European market for pianos is shrinking, China’s is booming. It is now both the world’s largest piano producer and consumer, with the country accounting for 76.9% of the global piano output in 2012 alone, according to market analysts ResearchMoz. But China is not just making pianos. It is also buying them. For many owning a Steinway, the Rolls-Royce of pianos, is a status symbol. Displaying a grand piano in the living room projects not only culture and learning but also wealth: only the largest homes can accommodate them. Prices can also veer into the extreme.
Global Piano Market: Forecast by Form
As digital technology continues to mature, electric pianos are gradually absorbing the market for pianos. First and foremost, a digital piano is designed to accurately simulate an acoustic piano. Instead of physical hammers and strings, they incorporate high-level digital sound technology and strategically positioned speakers to produce a convincing and organic acoustic piano sound. In addition to providing great tone with easy volume control, the digital sound engine eliminates costly tuning and other regular maintenance that is required with acoustic pianos. Precision weighted keys recreate the feel of an acoustic keyboard for a realistic playing experience, while the ability to choose among different sounds—including various grand pianos as well as non-piano sounds—ensures that learning is varied and interesting. Some digital piano models even let you create your own sounds to suit your taste.
Digital pianos are often equipped with a huge variety of sounds beyond the acoustic piano, such as electric pianos from the ’70s and ’80s, strings, harpsichord, and church and electronic organs. Some also have guitar, bass, and synthesizer sounds for even more versatility. It’s great to be able to learn Scarlatti pieces using a convincing harpsichord sound, and a change in tone can inspire you and help recapture the passion if those fingering drills are becoming tiresome. Younger children also love experimenting and mixing sounds to make learning more exciting.
Global Piano Market: Forecast by Region
Nowadays, China is considered like the largest piano manufacturer in the world. China’s piano market has become the fastest-growing, largest and most promising market in the world, and the volume of production and sales totaled almost 80% of world piano market. Currently, the demand for the piano industry is mainly based in Asia and Europe, and China is the largest producer. The overall volume of piano production was nearly 475 thousand units in 2013. The total volume in Asia was 445 thousand units or nearly 94% of the overall volume of production and China accounted for 73% of the total, China’s piano production. In 2014, the total production volume of the piano in China reached 490.746 units, with a growth of 8.05%.
Middle-class families in China are able to offer a piano and lessons to their children. In 2013, ownership of pianos increased to three pianos per 100 urban households, and it is expected that number to grow four times by 2020. But there is still a large gap between China and other developed countries. Which is 20-30 pianos per 100 households in terms of piano ownership, which means that there is still a great potential for growth.
Global Piano Market: Key Players
Yamaha Pianos, KAWAI, Samick, Youngchang, Steinborgh, Steinway, Bechstein, Mason & Hamlin, AUGUST FOERSTER, Fazioli, Guangzhou Pearl River Piano Group, Hailun Pianos, Xinghai Piano Group, Goodway, DUKE Piano, Shanghai Mendelssohn Piano
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