The Guitar & Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) commenced its annual virtual meeting on March 11, featuring a panel discussion titled “What Now … ? Surviving Post-COVID.” The panel was moderated by John Kelley of Ortega Guitars, the new president of GAMA, and featured Dennis Webster of C.F. Martin & Co., Jeff Moore of ESP Guitars and Brad Johnson of Guitar Center.
Webster first looked at the history of his company to try to determine what the future may hold. “It was exactly one year ago today that Chris Martin addressed us and talked about the 1918 [Spanish Flu] pandemic. 1918 was a bad year for us. But 1919 was the greatest year of growth we had,” said Webster.
He added guitar sales have been quite strong and he expects this strength to remain for at least the remainder of this year. “[Growth] will slow. But we will retain people [that joined the MI industry since the pandemic started].”
Demand for guitars and accessories can certainly be considered a great thing. But one problem is supply chain congestion. “Supply is an issue. It will take much of this year to get it under control,” said Moore. “There is an inability to get parts from around the world.”
ESP’s goal moving forward is to continue to engage customers, stated Moore. One way of doing so is online events companies hosted before, during and after NAMM’s Believe in Music Week. “Everyone had an online version of NAMM,” said Moore. “Our goal is to keep the content fresh. While waiting for supply to keep up, we can keep the excitement going.”
Despite supply concerns, Moore stressed the good news is he believe demand for guitars and accessories will continue for the foreseeable future. “I am optimistic.”
Johnson also expressed optimism about the future of guitars and accessory sales. He pointed out that the post-9/11 and Great Depression eras for good for MI sales and lasted for some time before receding.
“A lot rests on us to inspire and retain new customers coming into the market,” said Johnson. “… [Sales] will definitely level out, but we are gaining customers. It will definitely help our industry.”
Webster concluded that today, companies are not making bad guitars. This bodes well for customer satisfaction and repeat purchases. “We are in the golden era of guitar making,” he said.
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