Behringer’s so-called “website glitch” trades credibility for buzz

The day after Behringer posted a lineup of remakes of classic analog synth and drum machines, the company is calling it an error – and making no promises.

One one level, you can’t blame Behringer. You surely don’t need press conferences at pricey trade shows if you can mess around with buzz spread on forums and social media. And I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t devise some way of using that to their advantage – perhaps more honestly than here.

But you can blame Behringer for dissembling in communication, for setting out to harm competitors, and for mucking about with the trust of customers. All three of those things appear to have happened here.

In short: Behringer are again earning buzz, at the expense of the already questionable credibility of the brand.

Let’s review:

Yesterday, Behringer for the better part of the evening German time published complete product specs for drum machines and synthesizers, across multiple categories on their public website. That included references to a wide array of products from the KORG MS-20 to the Roland 808 and 909 to ARP 2600 and various other historical models.

Then, at 4 am German time, the company published the follow apology/correction or … whatever this is … to their Facebook page:

Dear Friends,
It was brought to our attention that early this morning a rather unfortunate error occurred on the Behringer product page. This error mistakenly posted information for a number of different product design concepts from our product management repository which is contained and part of an automated backend system for our websites. The cause of the error was due to a website glitch and was completely unintentional. The moment we realized the error, we removed the content.
As we are owning the mistake, we also feel it’s necessary to inform the public about this error as a sign of good faith. It was not our intention to mislead customers in any way nor use this as a marketing tool. To be perfectly transparent, the leaked information does not imply any availability at this time or even definitive evidence that we intend to officially develop or deliver these products in the future. At this stage, the leaked products are merely concepts and nothing more.
To be honest we are embarrassed by this glitch and sincerely apologize to you who have been so supportive of our efforts over the years. We greatly appreciate your support and understanding of the situation.

Sorry, assume a few people spit coffee on their computers there. “Automated backend system for our websites”?

This line we’ve heard before, too – that Behringer appears to view teasing products as a kind of trial balloon for measuring demand. The difference is, in the past, at least, they said that was what they were doing – they didn’t do it via a staged site bug.

Let’s talk about why this is problematic.

Fake news? Fake drums? Real Oberheim… Retro Synth Ad.

Behringer are being disingenuous in their communication. More bluntly: it’s very likely that they’re flat-out lying – or at least being tongue-in-cheek about this whole thing. Sure, it’s possible they keep product planning documents in the content management system they use for the site. And maybe then they use the production server for the task rather than a backup. And maybe they somehow automatically, accidentally published that same content to a production server publicly.

Though, if that sequence of events actually happened, uh, to the Web team … wow. Either way:

This encourages customers to delay purchasing competitors. This isn’t just about getting buzz. By hinting that Behringer will have low-cost alternatives of stuff users want, the brand can encourage customers to hold off purchasing shipping products from companies like KORG, Roland, and Moog. Indeed, specifically teasing recognizable products targets those competitors even more explicitly. And there’s anecdotal evidence to think there’s harm there, based on impressions on forums and comments. Even if that isn’t the case, retailers read those same threads, and this can spook them.

Uli Behringer’s extended rants about value and price, which imply (I think unfairly) that competitors’ products should be cheaper, also seems related to this strategy.

Behringer are hurting their own relationship with customers. I actually would encourage those same competitors to focus on this. Behringer are now over-promising in a pretty fantastic way. If they don’t ship this stuff, customers are likely to be disappointed with Behringer, not other companies.

And sure enough —

They’re still not shipping their Model D. Way back in March, Behringer were promising a low-cost Minimoog clone. But that clone still isn’t shipping, or seen on the site here – a fact not lost on social media (or CDM commenters).

They’re not exactly making the Curtis family happy, either. This is what the widow of Doug Curtis had to say about Behringer offering remakes of her late husband’s chips:

We are starting to see authorized chip remakes, however, as a competitors to what Ms. Curtis is referencing here. (COOLAUDIO Semiconductors have made the inexpensive chips that likely formed the basis for the product ideas above.)

Just don’t read too much into this. This understandably has generated a lot of buzz in December, a lull during which most manufacturers are focused on holiday sales, with product announcements mostly paused until late January.

But I think most people wanting a new drum machine, or a Roland Boutique, or KORG’s ARP recreations, or new Eurorack modules, on down the list are likely to go ahead and invest anyway. I think the relationships between those brands and their customers – from the Japanese giants to the one-person Eurorack boutique makers – are safe, too.

If this was (improbably) a mistake, Behringer, fix it. If it wasn’t, well – yeah, expect some of us to question your intentions.

The post Behringer’s so-called “website glitch” trades credibility for buzz appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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