Who’s In The Market For Vinyl?

A big focus of my other website is writing about and discussing topics of interest to those who collect soul records; and when I say “records” I mean those round discs that are pressed out from vinyl that you rotate on a platter to play. While I’ve had records ever since I was a little kid, my collection were largely hand-me-downs and contained some real duds. So while the uptick in vinyl record sales is a relatively recent phenomenon, I’ve been the exception to the rule.

And that is my big challenge in regards to this subject, assuming that most buyers are like myself (when they are not).

This is an ongoing struggle for those who are in the marketing business; creating meaningful buyer personas. This comes from just good old-fashioned research. You not only need to know the demographic profile of those who buy your product, but also of those who you would like to buy your product. Sure, surprise hits always occur in business (Pet Rock anyone?), but it is far more common to have a clear strategy and to reap the fruits of its execution.

So who exactly buys vinyl records? And better yet, who do we want to buy vinyl records?

More than half of the consumers of vinyl records are male (62%) and middle-income, college educated (69%). As far as ages, currently we are at a split. There have always been Baby Boomers who have been stubborn and refused to part with and add to their vinyl collections. But most of the consumer research focuses on the 18-34 year old crowd, of which 30% plan to buy vinyl in the next 12 months.

Amid all the buzz and excitement however (even with Amazon announcing that vinyl sales increased 745%, keep in mind they don’t release actual sales numbers), you have to see the bigger picture. Vinyl sales comprised a mere 2% of overall music sales. Sales of all physical record formats around are declining (thank you iTunes), and with the popularity of streaming, many fans are forgoing music ownership all together.

But there is still one big piece of the puzzle that is missing. And that is used vinyl record sales. Unlike new releases, there isn’t a lot of research and data available about who is buying used records. The gripes about the sticker price of vinyl seems to lose wind when it comes to used vinyl; something that most independent record stores stock a lot of. Remember, today’s go to spot for vinyl is not a mall franchise, but rather the independent store who serves as a music curator of sorts.

So when it comes to vinyl, embrace the niche market. Cater to the audiophiles, DJs (the sales of turntables is up as well), and collectors. A brick and mortar store should not prevent you from selling your wares online as well (especially if you want to keep the cash flow going). But most importantly, do not alienate young buyers. Listen to them. Understand that many of them are building their vinyl collections from scratch. Advise them on record care, pricing and stereo equipment. Build that trust and relationship early on, and they’ll likely be customers for a long time; especially since vinyl will apparently be sticking around for quite some time.