The Never Ending Pipeline: Part 3
by Mike Robinson
OK, in Parts 1+2 we discussed what feeds the pipeline and the hurdles that need to be crossed before officially entering it. Now let’s take a look at the process.
Once a guitar has become a candidate for entering the Eastwood pipeline, the process of developing a winning model begins. Here we take a look at two main things:
- What Retail Price does this new model need to insure maximum success?
- What is the long-term plan for this model? What variations can we expect to create that will increase the life-cycle?
What is the appropriate retail price for the new model? This is an important question. As we discussed earlier, if the original vintage models are selling for only $1,000, then it might be commercial suicide to build a replica at or near the same price. The better chance for success would be in the $399-$499 range. Take a look at Harmony Guitars attempt to reenter the market a few year back. They reissued the entire line of models (15+ models?) at a price range of $700-$1500. At the same time, original Vintage versions of most could be bought for less than $500 (Bobkat, Silhouette, etc). In my opinion, this was a huge mistake. Where are they now?
That is why this is an important question. If answered correctly, it will drive the decisions you make in a) factory location, b) parts selection, c) materials, etc. It helps guide us through the decisions that need to be made in order to roll out a successful product launch.
Here is an example where we felt the price point need to be as affordable as possible; this model sells for $379: The Bobkat
Check out this demo:
On the other end, here is an example of a model where we felt the quality, design and construction of the model needed to be at its best and were confident that market would support it, as the originals are selling for $4000+: The '59 Coronado DLX
This model includes a deluxe Airline hardshell case, Bigsby tremolo, Tone Pros locking bridge and tuners, rubber binding on a Tone-Chambered Mahogany body. Priced at $1199 it has become one of our top-selling models.
Of course this demo helps:
What is the long term plan? Next we look at the potential lifecycle of the models. Questions include color schemes, limited edition models, Artist Signature models and more. If you look at Fender and Gibson these days, they have hundreds and hundreds of variations on the Strat and the Les Paul. It seems endless, but there is a market for each new model and they continue to grow the brand.
As an example, we first launched the Airline 2P model in 2004. The first release had the Eastwood brand on the headstock and an inexpensive trapeze tail.
In 2005 we introduced it as an Airline branded guitar in 4 different colors and a new custom tailpiece.
The Airline® 2P DLX:
In 2008 we developed the Airline VVSC pickups to replicate the original VALCO Single coil pickups found in the early National, Supro and Airline guitars. We then followed up a year later with the ’59 Series of Airline guitars that came standard with the VVSC pup’s, added rubber body binding and many cosmetic upgrades including the striped pickguard and chrome vintage style switchplate.
The Airline® '59 Custom 2P:
All along the way we released a few limited edition custom colors, like Metallic Margarita and the South Beach Special.
Watch for my next BLOG – The Never Ending Eastwood Pipeline: Part 4 – where we will take a look at the process of manufacturing once a model makes it into the Eastwood reissue pipeline.
So keep those suggestions coming!