Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Bellport Village - LI, NY
Everyone, especially Glen and Rich, made some great points. I'd like to throw some in also. (well, I don't know how 'great' they are - I don't know everything).
The bad judgement on Ibanez's part is that in an effort to maintain or increase profits, all they are doing is raising prices. This is not always the answer.
Basically, Ibanez needs to draw more attention to the line. That's going to involve one or both of these things: they should do a bit more to promote the Jem and/or diversify the line a bit (or change it up more frequently)
Yep, we're talking the old cliche: spending money to make money. However:
Advertising doesn't only come in the form of magazine ads and store displays. Ibanez should offer more swag. It would be great if they had swag specific to a model or series. But - they could just simply feature a model, part of a model, or it's profile in an image used on a promo product. At one point - the Jem was the flagship model and in a way, it still is 'somewhat' but the body is so recognizable still. For example, Ibanez could sell shirts with their logo superimposed over a sleek body shot of a Jem (or even another model. It's somewhat similar to when Ibanez used the swirls as a trademark 10 years ago for their logo colors, on shirts, and straps. Anyway - enthusiasts buy this kinda stuff! No, the market isn't and isn't likely going to be what it was between 1987 and 1993, but letting the public get a better idea of what's out there is going to turn over a profit more quickly than not investing into that at all.
The other situation to consider is that a lot of stores don't know how to sell this guitar properly. The general mindset, especially in the US, is that guitars that are made overseas have no business being in the same price bracket of American guitars. This is nonsense but it's how a lot older players have trained the newer players to think. So, some stores just don't know how to sell a relatively expensive Japanese "Floyd Rose" type of guitar. They don't want to devote the space or inventory for it. the salespeople (especially the really young ones) don't necessarily know spicifically what type of customer they should try and sell this to. The other side of this coin s that the only people that typically know or found out about Jems are those who are enthusiasts of either Steve Vai or this class of guitar. Basically, there hasn't been much actively done to draw a new market or additional attention to the JEM line, It's like Ibanez only acknowledges this sales of this guitar as a self-sustaining.
It's difficult to compare a Steve Vai model to an EVH model. They are both in such an elite class of players however EVH has managed to stay familiar to a wider group of people. Van Halen has maintained a loyal fanbase since the late 1970's and despite all the craziness the past several years, they've still remained relatively commercially successful and familar to many people outside their fanbase. Steve Vai on the otherhand has not been with any (commercially very successful) legendary band or artist long enough for the average person to associate him with them. More people who are not seriously devoted fans or players themselves, are most likely going to recognize EVH's name as a guitarist before they will Steve Vai's. C'mon, a lot of people who have heard of SSV can't even say or even spell his last name correctly.
You also have to consider what Ibanez is willing to do (or not do) to keep prices down, or even reduce them. In most cases - quality suffers. Offering a lower-priced version may entice more dealers to stock a signature guitar but it could ruin the reputation of the others in the line. If a cheaper model also happens to be cheaper in quality - it still may be very noticeable - even if a new potential customer has never tried another JEM before. If it's a bad impression - that may also be the first impression of the line. Unfortunately, consumers on a large scale are not open minded enough to go past their first impressions especially the lesser-experienced ones. Also, the fans that want to buy the same guitar as their heroes are going to want to buy something that, at least, very closely resembles, the artist's actual guitar whether it's the same model or a lesser expensive model that looks very similar. There is the other tyoe of customer that gets very turned off when the artist won't even use the models in the stores (prototypes and experimental models are excluded from this statement).
OK, I've participated on this site for about 6 years and I've worked in music retail and with musical instrument companies collectively for over 7 years. Played since I was 11. I have a lot of opinions but I better stop here befor you either fall asleep or lose your eyesight. Sorry to draw this out but I couldn't help myself.
Mike 777 Haug