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Recent Work Spotlight: Fender Guitar Leads Category by Championing Female Players

As brand and data strategists, we’re inspired by the ways a company can find success through authentic connection with their consumers. Recently we’ve been inspired by one of our own clients, Fender Guitars, and their ongoing success finding authentic ways to reinvigorate the brand’s relationship with guitar players.

In 2017 and 2018, Egg partnered with Fender on a qualitative + quantitative study designed to illuminate today’s guitar player. Electric guitars, which is Fender’s inextricable legacy, were losing popularity, potentially signaling a decline in rock music overall. It begged a fundamental question: Who are guitar players, today? What exactly are they looking for as they pick up a new instrument? What can Fender do to connect with them and support their journey? A quantitative segmentation was our first step to answering these questions, where we classified a handful of player types. A subsequent qualitative phase got to know these player types more intimately, contextualizing their varying motivations, aspirations, barriers and identifying points of potential connection for Fender.

Most notably, the data showed that 50% of new and aspiring guitar players today are female. These women represented a range of player types, with varying motivations and desired outcomes. But looking at the category, one common barrier existed for all of them: guitar and rock music had always tended to feel pretty masculine, even in recent years. These insights plainly showed a contradiction. One that presented a big, but nuanced opportunity for the Fender brand. Since that study, Fender’s activated these insights, evolving their approach to focus on these female players – and successfully connecting with a previously untapped audience in some pretty impactful ways.

The key to that success has been Fender’s use of consumer insight to inform an intentional shift, not only in the way they talk but also the way the brand has re-evaluated product innovation, content and retail experiences to create space for female players. The impact is evident wherever you see the Fender brand, but a handful of recent examples stand out to us:

In 2020, Fender has debuted two signature instruments in partnership with female musicians, Billie Eilish’s Fender Ukelele, and most recently H.E.R.’s Signature Stratocaster. Both launches celebrate these female artists as role models, while also innovating instruments and equipment with female players in mind.

Additionally, the brand’s digital guitar lesson platform, Fender Play, thoughtfully features female instructors across musical genres, again showcasing role models for aspiring learners. But throughout the COVID pandemic, the offer to join this platform has been extended as a free trial twice. Sure, this is a benefit that any new player can take advantage of… but it’s also another way the brand is extending a purposeful invitation to new players, many female, who may not have felt the same warm welcome from other places in the category.

Across these efforts, Fender has demonstrated category leadership and backed their intention to propel this new cohort of female players towards their aspirations. In a category that has seen slow growth in recent years, Fender has clearly struck a chord: they’re out-pacing growth vs. competitors. At Egg Strategy, we’re excited to see where this growth continues to take the icon in months and years to come. And, we’re reinvigorated ourselves by the way rich insight can truly be a catalyst for connection.