Online forums' influence on manufacturers

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Marlat, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    A couple of threads lately on TB, and a particularly interesting one on another forum got me thinking about an interesting topic for discussion. Basically a manufacturer has come out and told the forum members "the truth" about how much influence they really have on the overall sales of the product and I was genuinely surprised by the figure. Now, to be honest I have to give huge props to the manufacturer who said this because its not a comment thats going to "win the hearts and minds" of his forum users, but it was a very interesting bit of information.

    In short, the manufacturer basically said that the influence that forum users have on the overall instruments sales is insignificant and therefore its unlikely to have any real influence on build and marketing decisions. I don't think there was any suggestion that forum users' views are ignored, but more that they don't rank particuarly high when it comes to the views of their biggest buyers (ie stores - big chains etc), their own R&D departments and marketing departments.

    Now I don't think this would come as a huge surprise to many forum users in terms of large manufacturers, but it got me thinking about whether the influence that forum users *think* they have is far greater than the influence they *do* have.

    I would be interested to hear from both builders, shop owners and TBers generally on this topic. How do you perceive the collective influence of the forum on manufacturers etc. Do you think they listen to the views and do you think that they have any real influence?
  2. sirpug


    May 8, 2008
    Everett Wa
    I never really thought that the forums had much influence in the sales department and to be honest, sales are what drive R&D/marketing. I think that we here are a small percentage of the buying public (this goes for everything that has a forum BTW). While we are a vocal group, most of the general masses that want to buy a bass, a gun, a video game etc. don't read the forums before hand. When I bought my first bass I just went to CG, looked/played around and bought what I liked. For the masses, it's more about brand name and looking cool apposed to functionality that those of us here would look at. Don't get me wrong, the manufacturer might get ideas for future designs here but over all it's all about the sales.
  3. I would agree, the vocal TB community is pretty small and doesn't represent much. For big mainstream brands, I'm sure they don't bother.

    For the very small, upper end brands, it seems like some of them get a meaningful percentage of their sales (especially on the bass guitar side) from TBer's. If you are a one man shop building custom basses (100 a year or less), you can almost make a business from TB, especially if you latch on to some of the more vocal and 'influential' TBers.

  4. cigi


    Aug 22, 2006
    I agree,

    It seems on talkbass that for example laklands are everywhere. Look at the owner group thread it's allready at part 10... . In fact there are relatively few lakland owners if you consider the entire bass population. I was so exited when I got my dj skyline, but everyone here in Belgium I told about it went: lake...what?

    Only a few professionals (three to be exact) knew the basses, one had actually played one.

    all I'm saying is that here on talkbass it seems as the manufacturers who contribute to this forum have a lot of influences but if you look at their influence on the market buy using this forum, it will be small.
  5. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Sales drive manufacturers, not forum opinions. Even if they give our opinions weight, there are so many factors such as material cost, where parts are manufactured, shipping concerns, etc that they have to look at before going into production.

    Some manufacturers might look into our forums and have their own thoughts confirmed, i.e. 'boutique' is such a small corner of the market compared to names like Fender, Ampeg, Ibanez, etc that they may as well not bother changing what they do.
  6. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    If a large percentage (i.e, well in excess of 50%) of the bass-buying public were members here it might have some influence, but that simply isn't the case. In my own little world, I personally know well over 50 bass players that I am close enough to that I could call them at any time, but out of that group of 50+ only 2 are TB members.

    Internet boards like TB are great, but we simply don't have the clout to influence a large manufacturer. Money talks, and since TB (like many others in the web-world) talks much more than we spend, don't expect to play a significant role in swaying the trends of the market .... ;)
  7. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Even if there is a meaningful percentage of sales from online forums, do you think that the forum users views would flow through to force manufacture, design or marketing changes? I am not sure if I can really think of an instance of this to hand where, for example, the cllective opinion of TB caused a product name change or design change etc. However, maybe its out there and I just can't remember it.

    More generally, do you think that forum users over estimate the larger significance of their own opinions on basses etc? I am not sure I ever really thought of my opinion (on basses) to be anything more than just a statement of what I think. That is, I never really stated it with a view to changing a builders mind.
  8. Looking at the "clubs" here, you'd think there were thousands upon thousands of Sadowsky, Lakland, Valenti, etc., etc., etc. owners. Guess what? There aren't. In all my years of playing, I have seen 1 Sadowsky, 1 Elrick and 1 Lakland. I've seen tons of Fenders, Peaveys, Yamahas, etc. (I also have seen 1 Wishbass but I don't know exactly where to put that...:D). Money makes the world go around, not posts on an internet board.
  9. TrooperFarva

    TrooperFarva Guest

    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    What about Accugroove and the Accuswitch? Wasn't it threads on this board that debunked the idea, and got it pulled from the line?
  10. LOL, what about the people who have SEVERAL of a given brand. You might not see many Rob Allens, CBs, or Stambaughs in the field, but you might find a strong concentration of the Rob Allens in circulation might belong to TB members.
  11. vision

    vision It's all about the groove!

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    It has happened, but only with small boutique builders. Thunderfunk is the example that pops to mind first, he made a series of updates to his amp, and the TFB-750 had the input of TB'ers in a huge thread about it before it was released. Other than that, I know that some of the small volume bass builders like Valenti and Skjold have made options/features available because of guys on TB.
  12. Michael777


    Feb 22, 2006
    General Manager: Bass Central
    Actually I believe that every opinion can be an opportunity for change to be honest. While yours might not be heard, Someone else's will.
  13. vision

    vision It's all about the groove!

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    +1...I've done pickup gigs before with my Celinder and had guys ask about it because it sounds good - they might say something like "man that Fender is killin!" or "is that some kind of Fender clone? Sounds like the real thing!" :p The first couple of times I tried to actually explain what Celinder was: "its a boutique jazz bass, like a turbocharged Fender. Kinda like Sadowsky." But I kept getting blank stares on "Sadowsky"...if they haven't heard of Sadowsky there's no WAY they'll understand anything about Celinder. But TB will make you think that Sadowskys are all over the place!
  14. I get similar reactions with my Bacchus. The irony is that Roger Sadowsky builds plenty of guitars. You'd think guitarists would have heard of him because of that.
  15. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    It's like any business I suppose. Take a small, upscale restaurant. One newspaper review can have a huge impact (positively or negatively) on their bottom line. But I don't think Applebee's corporate office is up at night worrying about one bad review.

    It's just percentages. There are several builders in the effects forum that have refined designs or gathered ideas based on the posts of TBers in that forum. And Chris Stambaugh told me that most of his business these days comes from TalkBass.

    But why would Fender or Boss or Ampeg bother?

    If a small builder moves 20, 40 even 100 more basses because of listening to TBers then it is worth it to them. For a large scale bass manufacturer like Fender the profits on even 1000 might not even offset the costs of revamping the manufacturing process needed to accommodate those changes.
  16. E-Mac

    E-Mac Guest

    Aug 30, 2008
    while maybe not exactly what you're all talking about.. The Lakland Decade was designed in conjunction with the Dude Pit Forum. The Decade Skyline also came about at the demand of forum members. Then, the DJ skyline with the black blocks was due to demand of forum members here at TB. Along with the Lakland Owner's Group Bass that is being worked on.

    So sometimes we posters do have an influence.
  17. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    For me they are; just a bit of fun really. :hyper::D
    To research for free.
  18. mike_v_s

    mike_v_s Guest

    Yes. A few examples have been given that show opinions can be taken seriously enough to affect change, but generally this is not the norm. Anyone remember the guy here that tried (and tried, and tried) to get Fender to make a 24 fret Precision Bass? As stated by TheBigO, I'm not sure 1000 guaranteed sales would be enough profit to introduce another model.

    I think the impression of support for a product idea will not translate into sales and that manufacturers realize this. The End.

  19. On the warwick forums, we have huge influence! Like they are a contest where we (the forum member) are being asked to design a new SC model for the company. That is def a HUGE influence. Otherwise than that, I don't think we have much influence on decisions a company makes.
  20. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Alembic takes a lot of advice and suggestions from Alembic Club members. Several features in their portfolio started out as a "hey, can you guys do this?" sort of an idea from a member during the construction of their bass. One of their most popular new body designs (the Balance K) was developed when a member (whose name begins with a K) specced out what he wanted in a smaller, more contoured body.


    They've even played around with logo designs and headstock designs because of Alembic Club member suggestions.