Steinway to hits the right notes on the keyboard

Updated: 2013-08-05 07:18

By Chen Yingqun in Beijing and Cecily Liu in London (China Daily)

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Steinway to hits the right notes on the keyboard
Wei Wei says Steinway pianos have been experiencing double-digit sales growth in China, and believes the trend will continue for the next five years. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]

Steinway to hits the right notes on the keyboard

Piano maker sees urbanization as playing to demand of its products

German luxury piano maker Steinway & Sons is banking on the close links between music and urban entertainment to hit the high notes in China.

Steinway, which entered China in 1999 with a representative office in Beijing, has since then kept pace with the country's rapid urbanization and now has a presence in more than 25 Chinese cities. Steinway & Sons, a 159-year-old company with headquarters in Hamburg and New York, has six divisions around the world. Sales last year reached $216.8 million for 2,001 instruments.

Wei Wei, general manager of Steinway Piano (Shanghai) Co Ltd, says urban parents have been the biggest props for the company's rapid growth in China.

"Chinese parents are becoming increasingly aware that in modern society along with education, children also need specialized skills. Since piano playing is considered a specialized skill, we find that there is a growing interest in learning it," Wei says.

"At the same time, pianos are also becoming popular with urban dwellers as an ideal tool for relaxation, especially in cities where the pace of life is really fast."

According to Wei, some Chinese also play the piano for self-entertainment. "These are people who are successful and extremely busy and consider piano playing an emotional pursuit that is in tune with their high incomes," she says.

The piano is also becoming popular with urban dwellers in China who are retired and want to spend more time on hobbies. "Playing the piano is not just a way of passing time, but something that helps slow down the pace of life," Wei says.

The rising disposable income of urban households and more choices for consumer products in big cities also means that people are now more brand conscious.

Steinway pianos are high-quality products matched with exquisite craftsmanship and a keen eye for detail, thereby ensuring the best value for money, she says.

"We focus on brand differentiation because we want to be different from competitors in design, the materials used and the manufacturing process. What we try to do is to position our pianos at the premium end of each price segment," Wei adds.

Steinway's range of pianos in China include its standard ebony pianos; its customized art case pianos, which can cost millions of dollars; as well as the Boston, Essex and Lang Lang brands, which are designed by Steinway but made by other manufacturers in Asia.

Steinway's Crown Jewel collection of grand pianos, one of the company's most expensive ranges that sell for at least a million yuan ($163,000), has seen an annual growth rate in sales of 20 to 30 percent on the mainland.

The prices for the Boston line range from $16,000 to $57,000,. while the Essex is priced from $8,000 to $20,000. Lang Lang pianos are an exclusive brand designed for China that began in 2006, named after the famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who gave advice on the design and feel of the pianos.

Last year, Steinway also created its first commemorative piano in China, called Charm of the Dragon, which has an ancient dragon logo on one side of the body and Chinese calligraphy on the other.

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