A brief slump in the chainsaw market in 2010 has created pent-up demand for the product this year. That, paired with strong storms across the U.S. which have created a need for debris cleanup, has left manufacturers hopeful for increased sales in 2011.
Sales stable, not soaring
Chainsaw sales had a sluggish start in early 2010, but most manufacturers have reported a steady increase since. Speaking on Tanaka sales, Tim Hawkins says sales were down at the start of 2010 but started to recover by year’s end.
“The 2010 chainsaw market was down 20% from 2009. By the 2010 fall season it had shown recovery to the previous year’s level,” says Hawkins, director of sales for Tanaka. “The chainsaw market continues to show steady recovery and growth toward pre-recession levels.”
Dealers in recent years have enjoyed high-volume parts sales helping to supplement poor equipment sales. “Last year, our parts business increased as many people elected to keep their old chainsaw running rather than spend the money on a new one,” explains Dave Tilton Jr. of Tilton Equipment Company, importer and distributor of Jonsered products. “New-unit sales were still good, however. With everything considered, the saw market is still quite resilient.”
Stihl reportedly experienced strong growth in the product category for 2010. “The market for gasoline-powered chainsaws fell in 2010, while Stihl sales increased,” says Douglas Yeates of Stihl Inc. “We attribute this to a variety of factors, including our network of independent servicing dealers supported by effective advertising in national, regional and local media.”
Stihl hopes their strong sales will continue into 2011. “The market is not expected to change much in 2011,” says Yeates. “Stihl has had a favorable start to the year, and we expect this trend to continue for the balance of the year.”
For Jonsered, there is hope dealers will meet a rush for chainsaw sales in 2011. “We believe there is considerable pent-up demand and are already seeing strong sales,” says Tilton. “Hopefully that will extend throughout the year.”
A strong focus on marketing can help grow chainsaw sales. Marketing throughout the year with an increased push at peak seasons brings the best results.
“The best time to start advertising and promoting chainsaws is in the early spring and early fall, at the beginning of the chainsaw seasons,” says Hawkins. “As the leaves start to fall, work turns to trimming and felling trees and cutting firewood.”
Tilton cautions that the marketing practices for the category have changed, and require more effort throughout the year. “It used to be only the early fall, but that has changed significantly. We consider chainsaws to have a year-round market,” says Tilton. “Nonetheless, spring and late summer to early fall remain the best time to promote.”
Yeates agrees, saying: “People often cut wood in fall, but storm cleanup in spring and throughout hurricane season in some markets also can be high-demand periods for chainsaws.”
Marketing to both consumer and commercial customers is essential, as the homeowner market has shown more interest in chainsaw purchases in recent years.
Jonsered and Stihl have both seen a growth in sales of “homeowner” models. “Stihl has always appealed to the professional, whether it is a logger, landscaper or some other professional,” explains Yeates. “However, as our brand awareness increases, more and more homeowners are beginning to purchase Stihl products. This trend is expected to continue.”