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With over 70 percent of the participant’s in this month’s retailer survey reporting either “up” or “level” sales of Latin hand percussion instruments, compared to the same time last year, this would appear to be a fairly robust market segment.

That said, there were still plenty who noted that business in this particular area had experienced a downturn in the past 12 months. Perhaps (probably) not surprisingly, when viewed from a regional perspective, those stores most enthusiastically singing praises of a Latin percussion sales boom tended to be from the Southwest and Western parts of the U.S.

One frequently cited gripe was the relatively low profits provided – at least on the lower and mid­tier instruments: “The big brands don’t share a suitable profit margin, this forces independent music stores to get creative and buy from no­ brand sources,” said Anthony Mantova of Eureka, California’s Mantova’s Two Street Music.

A clear winner, across the board, however is cajóns. Nearly every respondent pointed to increased sales of the versatile instrument. “Cajóns have finally found their place (in our market) due to the dwindling size of performance venues and the increased interest in acoustic volume­level performers,” shared Justin Hoppe of Cadence Drums, LLC in Rochester, New York.

Another trend that many pointed to was the embrace of these hand percussion instruments by young (young­ish, anyway) players, from the beginner to intermediate level. These are approachable, relatively affordable products that allow a “non­pro” to dive in and begin enjoying him­ or herself immediately – very possibly a good “gateway drug” for cultivating a larger pool of repeat customers...



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