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How Fender surfed the lockdown wave and thrives in 2020

Fender, a very famous American musical instrument producer, has recently experienced an increase in sales in China. Considering the economy in 2020, it was unlikely to predict.
Especially in March the situation was extremely bad.
A Fender Guitar
Still, as of September, Fender looks positive and expects sales records in all markets.
How could that happen?

Hit by COVID-19: Fender’s 2020 starts rough

It is understandable that, due to the lockdown, not many people could go to a store to find a guitar. Even more important is the fact that some did not have the chance to spend money during a pandemic for entertainment. Fender’s situation was grim, and it was necessary to take some difficult choices. Perhaps continuing on the same road for more than 70 years would not work anymore. As of March, 9 Fender dealers on 10 were closed.
Many considered 2020 as the biggest world crisis since World War II. That was also the period in which Fender opened for business. Perhaps it was time to start looking for new solutions.

Fender’s reaction to the lockdown

Fender’s recovery started with an initiative: three months of free access to Fender Play, their online app to learn how to play three string instruments: guitar, bass and ukulele. Similar ideas were adopted by other successful businesses during the lockdown, and the results are outstanding.
The users of app jumped from 150.000 to more than a million in just 6 months, which helped more and more people discover the beauty of playing an instrument. As a consequence, more and more people requested to purchase their new instrument.
Moving online was a necessity, but it proved useful. Fender got an increase in offline sales of around 10% in the first semester of 2020. In the same period, the online increase was 5 times as big.
Now Fender expects a record in sales thanks to the lessons learned in China. These lessons were steadily applied in other markets as well.

Fender’s lessons to learn both in music and business

Fender’s using the lockdown to start providing free lessons to music enthusiasts was indeed a good business move. Many started to pay the service at the end of the 3 months free period. It also proved a clever way to turn lemons into lemonade, showing resilience and strength that can make a company thrive despite the difficulties.
The tides of business can force to directional changes, but can bring also new opportunities.
Fender’s most important lesson is, perhaps, this one: when things do not go your way, it may be time to change direction. It is always better to ride a wave than to be pushed around by it. That will let you see opportunities that, before, were invisible.

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