As you will see if you check out the survey results, the simple answer posed by the title of this article (Artist Gear Endorsements – Useful or Useless?) is unequivocal: USELESS!
Statistically, the responses from 175 guitarists (as of when this article was written) overwhelmingly indicated that artist endorsements do not directly influence buying decisions.
However, the comments written by 92 of the respondents seem to me to indicate that although formal endorsements might not directly influence gear purchase decisions, guitarists always check out other player’s gear (duh!) and that, in the context of their own sound and guitar playing objectives, they pay attention to what gear is making what sounds.
Well, from a manufacturer’s perspective it might still make sense to pursue endorsements because the exposure of advertising that a certain player uses your gear helps to get it out in front of that artist’s fans.
Yes, it appears that when asked guitarists say they don’t buy gear just because artist “X” endorses it, but they do pay attention to that artist’s gear. I gotta believe that creates a least some influence – simply by exposing a prospective customer to the artist and the gear if nothing else.
The other thing to consider, which may be somewhat controversial, is that perhaps respondents took a side on this issue simply because they were asked to – and that they chose not to admit to being influenced by marketing!
This is technically called the “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle”. This is a theory related to quantum mechanics – physics – that states that measuring or observing something actually alters what is being observed or measured. Put another way, when something is measured or observes it changes from its normal state. Enough with the physics!
What I’m getting at is that maybe up until they were asked to take a hard position – are your gear purchase decisions influenced by artist endorsements or not – the survey respondents didn’t really have much of an opinion and happily checked out the gear used by artists they are interested in and, in turn, bought gear that they are interested in – the genesis of that interest coming from a multitude of sources including artist endorsements.
That might be a self-serving bias coming from a gear manufacturer, but I am curious as to why respondents were so adamant that endorsement have no impact on their gear purchasing behavior.
Personally, over the 30 years plus that I have been a guitar player I have to admit that I have formed my opinion of what is good/bad tone and how to get what I believe to be good tone through trial and error, listening to a lot of music and, yes, checking out the gear used by the guitarists I like – some of who endorse certain products.
Artist endorsements have at least made me aware that a certain player has – for whatever period of time from minutes to years – used a particular type of gear. That knowledge has caused me, from time to time, to perform at least a cursory investigation of the endorsed gear.
Having said that I cannot recall ever rushing out and buying a piece of gear because I learned that artist “X” played it. That is what I believe the survey results indicate.
From a manufacturer’s view, mine at least, I think that endorsements also help to establish a company’s brand: what musical genre is the gear suited to, what type of player is the gear designed for, etc. And, of course the biggie is simply exposure.
I don’t think we’ll ever see the demise of artist endorsements simply because it is another vehicle for a manufacturer to expose their products to potential customers – however directly or indirectly it influences buying decisions.
Check out the SURVEY RESULTS for yourself and let me know what you think by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org!