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Pearl River Piano: Tuning in to the Global Market

By J B Steenkamp, Nirmalya Kumar


This case traces the rise of Chinese piano maker Pearl River Piano (PRP) from a factory with dirt floors producing just four pianos a month using crude machinery to the world’s largest acoustic piano maker in 2012. PRP’s success is compelling: it accounted for over 20 percent of the global piano market by unit volume, with 14 percent growth despite tough industry conditions in 2012. In addition to dominating its domestic market (28 percent market share in China), it exported its pianos to more than 100 countries and regions worldwide. The journey was an extraordinary one: PRP was able to overcome major quality issues in order to carve out market share in a mature industry with huge entry barriers, and dominated by established Western and Japanese players. How did PRP earn the trust of consumers purchasing a fine, expensive, musical instrument for their home? How was PRP able to successfully compete on quality with companies that had been making pianos for centuries, while also building the marketing and leadership expertise needed to grow a global piano brand?

Learning objectives

  1. Country of origin: How companies can become successful while being hampered by an unfavourable country of origin.
  2. Brand management: how to shift from an entry-level brand to a high-quality premium brand, shifting brand awareness and brand perception among end customers.
  3. Brand portfolio management: how to develop, target and coordinate different brands for different target markets and customers.
  4. Emerging market strategy: strategies that emerging market brands can pursue to become truly global consumer brands.


Publication Date: August 2018
LBS Case Code: CS-13-008
Subjects: , ,
Pages: 20
Format: pdf