Steinway & Sons has manufactured the world’s best pianos for well over a century. Steinway sells its pianos in the U.S. through less than 75 carefully selected dealers. The quality of Stein- way pianos is unquestionably very high, but for a time Steinway’s management of its channel could make no such quality claim. It seems that Steinway was not sufficiently aware of its dealers’ problems including low profit margins on the pianos, slow-moving inventory, and high costs associated with supplying Steinway pianos to performers (a service all dealers were expected to provide). Indeed, Steinway’s main focus was on getting its dealers to stock more inventory, upgrade their showrooms, and hire more salespeople. Steinway’s answer for dealing with this manufacturer/dealer disconnect was to send its president and CEO out on the road for half a year to visit the dealers in person so as to learn first-hand about their needs and problems. What do you think of Steinway’s approach for learning about its channel members’ needs and problems? Is there a better way to do this? Would Steinway’s approach be feasible for other companies? Explain.
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