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Thread: Record number of visitors?

  1. #1
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    Default Record number of visitors?

    Just curious as to why record number of (143) visitors on line yesterday. Any idea why? Thanks!
    Harbeth PR,
    Harbeth UK

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by harbethpr View Post
    Just curious as to why record number of (143) visitors on line yesterday. Any idea why? Thanks!
    Because your customers, friends, visitors and believers increase. So does the value of this forum and the succeeding one of the relations between members.

    The only thing you can do, except thanking us, is to get prepared for the next peak, then for the next... and so on...

    Our thanks are expressed a bit differently to you all:

    "Keep walking"!

    Regards,
    Thanos

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Thank you Thanos for your confidence, but this is not the answer. The average number on visitors at any one moment is about 20. The peak was 100 over a year ago. So for some reason, yesterday was very special. Why?
    Harbeth PR,
    Harbeth UK

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Maybe someone talked about Harbeth in a forum or blog? Can't you tell from the IP to see from which country most people logged in?

    ST

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by harbethpr View Post
    Thank you Thanos for your confidence, but this is not the answer. The average number on visitors at any one moment is about 20. The peak was 100 over a year ago. So for some reason, yesterday was very special. Why?
    It may be Alan's (yours too) live, immediate & more often response/involvement in recent hot threads. Alan is back from CES 2010, and everyone is in anxiety of learning the knews, then things about recordings (many pro's & amateurs between us), then order treatment & delivery data for future owners, all of them in about the same time, plus some possible coincidence, and there you probably have it!
    Wish this would happen more & more often! Not bad at all!!!
    Happy to see traffic raising here!
    Best Regards!
    Thanos

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    I would say it is due to users like me (and viewers not registered with HUG) anxious about receiving their product on order now for about three months (P3esr's in Black Ash, USA destination), checking the "Today's Posts" and seeing the product lead time post by sales@HAL, then checking it a few times for updates (like today again) to see if there are any production clues! My dealer states probably March 2010 but maybe earlier.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Ok, noted.

    Actually, the leadtime shouldn't really effect you if you are in one of those markets which tick along and where there are predictable sales trends - upwards. Japan is a good example. So is China/Hong Kong. We have several prospective distributors tapping on our door and we had to find a way to let them down gently, without them feeling that we were disinterested and/or hostile to them. An announcement here makes the whole situation public. But we must look after existing markets before we dare take on any more. Ten years ago we had about fifteen markets; now we have over forty. That means, on average, we receive one bulk order every day from somewhere on earth, but we can't complete the order in a day's production - it may take from 2 -10 and that's why the leadtime queue builds up.

    Frankly, the global economic situation had two effects looking across our markets and order book. It frightened the life out of a few distributors who sensed the end of the world and cancelled orders and hence dropped out of the queue. Others stuck with it, and now have a solid delivery plan, including Harbeth USA. As for the former, it's a disaster for them. But why should it have been a seismic problem? Over our thirty three years we've seen a few economic cycles and our solid value-for-money package means we've usually grown especially when real value for money becomes in vogue again.

    We issue regular, written, to-the-day Order Confirmations to our distributors and the near-exact date of despatch of each order from Harbeth UK will be known by your importer. It's all part of our ISO9001 planning system. He should be able to decode the paperwork and pass the info along to you.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    I know your inclination, as you've expressed elsewhere, is to be very prudent about any possible expansion of production capacity - understandably.

    But if ever a business seemed to have a longterm, stable upward growth trend, it's Harbeth. You've put a moratorium on reviews so as not to stimulate demand further (most businesses have the opposite problem). You don't advertise heavily. And yet, demand steadily rises.

    At what point does demand become such that you pull the trigger for a bigger plant? Or do you ever do that? I know this is a complex and probably confidential business matter, but any thoughts you might be inclined to share on the topic would be received with interest.

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    It's a very reasonable question and I'm happy to discuss it as frankly as I can here in public.

    About twenty years ago I misjudged the upwards strength of the Japanese market*, shortly after I left NEC Corp. and took on Harbeth. History now shows that Japan was about to take an economic hit that it still has not recovered from. Around 1988-91 we expanded to track that anticipated growth which never happened, but left us with substantial overheads. Fortunately, we retained our previous (and now current) factory and were able to reverse back to it, and restore our overheads to a sane level. But the 90's were not easy for anyone in manufacturing. With that background, we just cannot bring ourselves to contemplate too hasty expansion. It was all so painful.

    * Remember all that talk in the late 80's about the 'Tiger economies'? When did you last hear that expression? Our experience in 1990 was not at all unique to Harbeth ... many suffered far more.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    I certainly understand the reluctance for any business to take on additional overhead if it can be avoided. But it sounds to me like there's a difference between 1990 and today: 20 years ago, you expanded based on "anticipated growth". It may have been a reasonable step to take at the time, but it didn't pan out. Today, by contrast, you seem to have actual growth (in demand), which might put you in a somewhat stronger position.

    Just a thought. But it's not my money and it's not my risk, I'm well aware. I just wonder if there'll come a point at which the pressure to expand becomes difficult to resist. You seem to be heading in that direction.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Again, a fair point. But remember - everything in life is cyclic and none of us are getting any younger. yes, we remain committed to improving our output but that leads to the second problem - finding completely reliable staff. 2.4 million unemployed in the UK. But it's impossible to find people in this southern part of the UK who actually want to roll-up their sleeve and make things, under instruction, to the standard required.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    I visited to see if anyone else was shocked out of their seats by the music coming out of their harbeths. Was listening to the last track on madonna?s hard candy album and the bass was all distorted. I thought ?uh-oh, either the tubes finally had their day or a fireworks display was about to happen in the living room?, so literally jumped out of the couch and switched off the amp! No one wants to wait a few months for another pair of harbeths.

    Then stuck some headphones into cd player and the kick drum distortion was still there. Put in another cd ? lill allen?s alright still. First track on that album--the drum distortion was still there, ummm..

    To cut a long story short, artistic licence today (adding distortion to music) is questionable and harbeths can depict distortion too realistically to the point of causing panic!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Humans are conditioned around linear thinking eg. ?there must be annual economic growth?, ?house prices must go up?, ?people will be using more energy?. A lot of this has proven to be painfully untrue with misallocated resources. Linear projections might be sound on a ?long? enough basis (with certain trend changes thereafter), but within trends there are, like you mentioned Alan, ?cyclics? which are big enough to make grown men cry. Things can be unpredictable and appears that humans, in our short history of civilisation, not learnt sobriety, myself included. Was reading some really interesting posts here about critical thinking. Fantastic stuff.

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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by kittykat View Post
    Humans are conditioned around linear thinking eg. ?there must be annual economic growth?, ?house prices must go up?, ?people will be using more energy?. A lot of this has proven to be painfully untrue with misallocated resources. Linear projections might be sound on a ?long? enough basis (with certain trend changes thereafter), but within trends there are, like you mentioned Alan, ?cyclics? which are big enough to make grown men cry. Things can be unpredictable and appears that humans, in our short history of civilisation, not learnt sobriety, myself included. Was reading some really interesting posts here about critical thinking. Fantastic stuff.
    Kittykat: did you mean to add a link? ("...posts here about critical thinking" - where?)

    I don't think you can compare the (theoretical) prospect of Harbeth expanding to a bubble comprised of inflated and over-collateralized real estate. Yes, economies are cyclical, etc. but the lowest risk always is of course to do nothing at all, or to make one pair of speakers a week in your basement. If you accept that that's not realistic either, then the question is what is the optimum size and scale. I can understand the reasons for Harbeth's business conservatism and don't at all take issue; it just occurred to me t that if they were expansion-minded, they'd be in a better position than most to take a shot at it given the obvious demand for what they make and their apparently quite solid and ever-improving reputation.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Record number of visitors?

    Hi EricW

    It's in this thread? AS's "Precision thinking v. consumer folly ....". I take your point. there might be an obvious demand but it's still a relatively specialised item versus say even "Mercedes", which is more broadly appealing to wider range of customers, from kids who have a picture of one on their bedrooms walls, to older guys who actually have one.

    "Harbeth" could possibly even be veering towards almost being ?cultist?. It?s a great thing ie. being hardly sexy yet, id imagine, building an extremely loyal following. I even dare generalise by saying that the personal philosophy/ mindset of a harbeth customer is very different from another.

    You don?t find too many companies like that nowadays. There will always be customers and growth but it might lean towards being a strong steady build, rather than an explosive one, driven by blitzes and promises in glossy magazines.

  16. #16
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    Default The underlying economics of success?

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    ... I don't think you can compare the (theoretical) prospect of Harbeth expanding to a bubble comprised of inflated and over-collateralized real estate...
    Unfortunately you can. You only have to look at the graph-link I put in the previous post here to see that, looking back twenty years, our growth was exactly synchronous with the stock and property value explosion in Japan. I could overlay the two curves as they track each other, season by season. The difficulty now is to try and separate the external economic factors (stock market, savings returns, house prices) from the true underlying increase in demand for Harbeth and to attempt to isolate that as a business model. What is really odd is that the last 15 months or so - since the start of the global financial shakedown in the Autumn of 2008 - has seen a dramatic increase in our sales, most markedly in the UK. Why is that? We don't advertise, there have been no UK reviews, we don't have a travelling sales force, we don't incentivise the dealers, we have strict commercial rules of supply .... and yet - yet - business has grown. But why now?

    Because we just don't understand what the basic economic engine that drives our progress is, we are naturally cautious. Conversely, if we understood the precise levers and wheels of success, we'd build a bigger machine for sure! Everything we do is about nurturing and protecting the Harbeth baby for the very long term; a fine line between over-feeding and under-watering.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  17. #17
    honmanm Guest

    Default Re: The underlying economics of success?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    What is really odd is that the last 15 months or so - since the start of the global financial shakedown in the Autumn of 2008 - has seen a dramatic increase in our sales, most markedly in the UK. Why is that?
    (speculating...)
    (a) money is tight, so there are more people wanting to get off the upgrade carousel and buy something that will last?
    (b) those who have only mortgage debt are smiling, they suddenly have more disposable income
    (c) just as chocolate is reputed to sell better in a recession, there is suddenly more appreciation for the Harbeth sound and the brand's "traditional" values*
    (d) the pound has lost 20% against other currencies, making British products relatively more affordable

    It would be interesting if someone in the trade (hifi_dave?) could tell us whether their customer profile has changed in this period....

    * in the motor-car world, Morgan comes to mind.

    P.S. I last bought new speakers in 1988, about 6 months after the market crash.
    Last edited by honmanm; 21-01-2010 at 04:50 PM. Reason: added possible reason (d)

  18. #18
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    Default Depenadbility and comfort

    Those are my thoughts entirely. I am not sure it necessarily works at a conscious level, but in hard times we naturally seek dependability and comfort. The Harbeth sound is reassuring, it is a sound you can settle with for the long term.

    As someone who has really felt the effects of the recession, over the last 12 months I have bought nothing but necessities... and a pair of SHL5s. I bought them as an investment, knowing that in 5-10 years time I wouldn't regret it.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: The underlying economics of success?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    ..... What is really odd is that the last 15 months or so - since the start of the global financial shakedown in the Autumn of 2008 - has seen a dramatic increase in our sales, most markedly in the UK. Why is that? We don't advertise, there have been no UK reviews, we don't have a travelling sales force, we don't incentivise the dealers, we have strict commercial rules of supply .... and yet - yet - business has grown. But why now?
    Yes, that is the really interesting question, isn't it? It doesn't seem likely that it's simply a matter of chance.

    Some hypotheses:

    1. Harbeth is much better known and established as a brand now than in 1990: you've been around long enough that there's a degree of trust that you're here for the long haul. Likewise, you attract customers who buy for the long term, not "flavour of the month".

    2. The Internet has become a strong sales tool and drives demand because it makes it very easy for people around the world to connect and communicate about Harbeth - perhaps it makes traditional advertising and marketing less important (would be interesting to know what percentage of sales are either someone who's already owned Harbeth, or has a friend/acquintance who owns Harbeth).

    3. In a world where few things are perceived as being stable, genuine and offering real quality and value, Harbeth has found a way to stand for the best of what is old (BBC tradition) and new (unique materials) in a blend that is hard to emulate but is very appealing. Modern and traditional at the same time. People want value and stability, a safe long-term investment, all the more so as the world seems to become more chaotic and unreliable generally.

    4. People now differentiate more between true longterm value and ephemeral value.

    Just a few thoughts.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The underlying economics of success?

    I have to agree more than enough with Eric, he's putting the matter on a very reasonable, experienced & balanced basis. I would like to add and a bit different comment, actually the other side of the same coin, coming from my 32 year experience of the wider Greek (and not only) market area:

    People are getting very tired, frustrated, opposed, even angry, suspicious and extremely doubtful nowadays about almost everything strongly and repeatedly advertised. The era of strong advertisement dies. The era of "Marketing, the king of Economy" dies. I shall not examine whether a product has got value or not, so to justify its marketing strategy. I'll just say that every new day, we individually try to stand away from this "brain storm" type of pushing products through the media. It creates reaction, opposition, even subconsciously so. The more they try to feed us, the less we eat. We feel that we are not faced as individuals -in a flattening world- but as a mass. Then come all the above feelings, followed by a big "NO"... many times even without a "THANKS"....

    In a globalisation environment you can't have your portion of food intact and well served, while the one next to you is struggling for solutions in financial, social & behavioural problems and issues. Shiny ads and companies should lower their profiles and maintain more silent quality and longevity against quantity, sales increase and "push more" strategies. All this might well be a psychological issue of human reaction, but it surely leads to sometimes devastating results. Once again, I feel that the commonly understood MEASURE has been fading out, for quite a long time now...

    And once again (as always before) Harbeth stands on the opposite bank of this river, and for this, Bravo!

    Regards,
    Thanos

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