Gibson tuning up to shred with new barrage of SlashFirst robotics, now Slash. The full details are not yet confirmed, but we've exclusively learned that Gibson is going to release eight new Slash-branded guitars. The campaign is so important to Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar, that he is taking the company's exciting Slash guitars off the market to create even more hype around the new ones.
Why eight? "Price points," Juszkiewicz says. "They're going to go from cheap to high-end custom, personally signed by Slash."
The Slash series will appear in stores March 15, and the guitarist and Juszkiewicz already are plotting a big stunt around the street date.
Juszkiewicz is planning a market strategy similar to the Gibson Robot Guitar, the first guitar with robotic self-tuning technology, which received Best of Show honors at the Consumer Electronics Show here this week. Juszkiewicz likens it to blockbuster movie marketing. "Make the demand by promotional marketing campaign and deliver a limited amount to your top retail chains so they will know the product will move off shelves," he says.
The Robot Guitar, which was released in December, sold out in two days globally at a price point of about $2,500.
"It's like fashion or trends," Juszkiewicz says. "Consumers want it, and then they want something else."
And like a blockbuster sequel, Gibson is going with two versions: a new, less-expensive Robot will arrive this year.
Gibson's retail strategy is big business. Like the demise of mom-and-pop record retailers and the rise of big boxes such as Best Buy and Target, Juszkiewicz predicts the same for the musical instrument market. In fact, he is distributing less and less to mom and pops and going with big guns like Guitar Center. "We are reducing our distribution and delivering high margins to our main channels like Guitar Center. We have two masters: the consumer and the big retailer."
Gibson has had a presence at CES for six years. This year the booth featured performances by Peter Frampton and Kevin Costner. Juszkiewicz says he devotes time and money to CES to build the Gibson brand. "People pay a premium for the right brands," he says. "We want to be an even bigger player in the electronics space."
Also on tap for this year is a new Jimmy Page guitar. "The ink is still drying on the deal," Juszkiewicz says. "It's going to be a special guitar."