Piano makers striking the right chord with China’s new rich


Yamaha Corp. and Kawai Musical Instruments Mfg. Co., two of the nation’s major piano builders, are posting strong sales in China thanks to the rise in wealthy and middle-class parents who spare no expense for their children’s education.

“Demand in China will likely continue to expand in line with an increase in income levels, and we hope to expand the market further by reinforcing marketing,” a Kawai official said.

Both Kawai and Yamaha say sales figures in China in the just-completed business year are double their fiscal 2007 level.

The two companies, both based in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, are taking different approaches in tapping the demand China. Yamaha has been introducing lower-priced models, while Kawai has revamped its high-end products.

Yamaha said it is marking strong sales with the YE116, released last June, with a price tag set at around 16,000 yuan (¥210,000), roughly 20 percent less than similar models targeted at middle-class families, creating competition with local manufacturers that offer pianos in the ¥150,000 range.

Yamaha estimates it has around 17 percent of the Chinese market, the second-biggest share after a local manufacturer. It is planning to develop models specifically targeted for China.