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A Study of Josiah Wedgwood's Sales and Marketing Methods

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Words: 1694 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 1694|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Introduction

The following topic report will focus on Josiah Wedgwood and his sales and marketing techniques. Consumerism was highly important to Wedgwood, without it he would have never been as successful as he was. Having only recently been exposed to Wedgwood, it is clear to myself that the man was truly ahead of his time in regards to sales and marketing. The topic report will begin with a brief insight into Wedgwood’s beginnings, the profound effect his mother had on him and the Etruria works in Stoke-on-Trent. Moving on the report will then focus on Wedgwood’s different techniques that he employed to market his wares. The report will look extensively into his use of Royal patronage and his strategy of starting at the head and proceeding on down to the inferior members. Wedgwood’s work was hugely successful abroad and this report will explain his strategy and how he became successful in the foreign market. It is clear from this investigation that Josiah Wedgwood is a man with an incredible vision and a huge talent. Josiah’s use of showrooms was also another important piece of his strategy and this report will look at how he and Thomas Bentley executed these plans. Finally the report will focus on his catalogue of wares and the significant impact it had on business and the earthenware industry.

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Topic Report

During the second half of the eighteenth and the early nineteenth century there was great economic and social change in Britain. Innovation bought wealth and a new middle class emerged within society. These were exciting times, confidence was high and the future was indeed very bright. The industrial revolution made anything seem possible and provided artists and craftsmen with new materials, tools and techniques to create their work. Among the skilled craftsmen was a potter called Josiah Wedgwood. Wedgwood was born on the 12th of July 1730 in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Little is known of his childhood however Wedgwood biographer Eliza Meteyard, claimed that his greatest influence was his mother. Wedgwood’s mother instilled the values of education and hard work into him.

In 1769, Wedgwood opened the Etruria Works in Stoke-on-Trent. The Etruria works was Wedgwood’s ceramic factory, which went onto run for some 180 years. The factory was named after some of the finest Greek pottery found in the tombs of Etruria, central Italy. Wedgwood extensively renovated the Etruria works in order to house his ceramic factory. Plans included a canal, wharf, two courts to link the three factory blocks together and a house for Wedgwood’s business partner Thomas Bentley. Etruria became a pioneering factory not just in ceramics but also using the system of division of labour. Before Wedgwood, pottery was somewhat of a cottage industry. However using a division of labour system enabled Wedgwood to produce pottery on a larger scale than before and ensured a new uniformity of quality.

Wedgwood used an interesting but revolutionary technique for his time to market and sell his pottery. Wedgwood’s techniques involved giving away pieces of his work to the Royal houses of Europe. The Royals would then display Wedgwood’s work in their palaces for the nobility and middle classes to see. In a letter to Thomas Bentley, Wedgwood states “Their Majestys are very good indeed! I hope we shall not lose their favour, and may promise ourselves the greatest advantages from such Royal Patronage, and the very peculiar attention they are pleased to bestow upon our productions”. This method was established before he moved to Etruria, in fact Wedgwood started using this technique while he was based at Burslem some years before.

Royal patronage was a valuable commercial asset for Wedgwood. One of his most prestigious patrons was the Queen of Great Britain. Wedgwood even went as far as sending samples and patterns for the Queen’s approval. The queen even bestowed upon Wedgwood the title ‘Her Majesty’s Potter’, after she gave her name and patronage to a line of pottery called Queens Ware. From 1767 onwards the words ‘Potter to Her Majesty’ began to appear on Wedgwood bill-heads. Wedgwood even went as far as renaming his London show-rooms The Queen’s Arms. Realizing that if he could woo and win the patronage of the influential few, he could attract the custom of the masses. Wedgwood’s formula of ‘begin at the head first, and then proceed to the inferior members’ was beginning to take shape. After the Queen, his customers included Princess Dowager, the Duke of York and Albany and the Duke of Clarence.

Wedgwood could never imagine that the taste for his wares would catch on the way that they did. The Russian’s were fond of Wedgwood’s work but his ambitions didn’t stop there. Wedgwood began to devise how to capture the attention of Ireland, Germany, Holland and even China. In Russia Catherine the Great was eager to purchase Western products, she considered foreigners as superior beings in the fields of arts and sciences. Catherine the Great commissioned from Wedgwood a Queen’s Ware dinner service, which Wedgwood had painted in purple and was referred to by himself as the ‘Russian Service’. A friend of Thomas Bentley, who is referred to as de Shoning even promoted a venture sending parcels of pottery to German princes. This venture proved successful with orders coming in over the next few years. German potters would eventually go on to copy Wedgwood’s work, creating their own version of his ware called The Steingut.

Bentley used his charm and tact to make important contacts in diplomatic circles. Using Wedgwood’s strategy of starting at the top of the social pyramid and working down, Bentley ensured that through ambassadors, envoys and Consuls Wedgwood’s ware entered the courts of Poland, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Turkey, Naples and Turin. Wedgwood introduced special lines for each market depending on the taste and what was popular in each country. Rococo for France, cheap goods for America and exotic designs for Turkey.

Another prominent feature of Wedgwood’s marketing and sales strategy was the rooms that Thomas Bentley operated. In 1771 Wedgwood playfully asks Bentley “How many Lords and Dukes Visit your rooms, praise your beauties, thin your shelves, & fill your purses”. Wedgwood’s methods were somewhat unorthodox for the time, however today they are viewed as revolutionary. In the rooms vases were displayed on their own or in pairs to provide a sense or rarity, however Wedgwood was also aware that rarity often grew stale in London after first sight and that it was variety that drew the attention of the people. Self-service facilities were introduced with keen attention focused on display. Wedgwood also urged Bentley to adjust his prices so that they were more attractable to the genteel. To ensure that Thomas Bentley was able to oversee the staff at the London establishments, Wedgwood came up with a solution to integrate them. Wedgwood also suggested that commission payments be introduced at the Newport Street establishment to ensure the sellers were kept interested and preserved the order of the house.

Another interesting technique used by Wedgwood was the publishing of the Wedgwood & Bentley catalogue in 1773. The catalogue was Wedgwood’s idea which he suggested to Bentley the previous September. Wedgwood even considered publishing a catalogue in French to send to agents and merchants abroad. The catalogue was an extensive piece of work showcasing his Queen’s Ware with various options available, which could be made individual to the consumer’s needs. These options included having plain ware or the option of having the ware gilt or embellished with paintings. In 1774 the catalogue was issued in English and French and appears to be the first illustrated catalogue by an earthenware manufacturer. Within six years of the first publishing, Wedgwood went onto publish more editions in German and Dutch. Export markets became increasingly valuable and by the 1780s, some 80 per cent of Wedgwood sales was abroad. The foreign market bought Wedgwood three things: firstly, they spread the fame and prestige of his name, his factory and his product, secondly, they increased sales and helped to diminish stock and finally, the foreign market provided a useful outlet for goods that were no longer fashionable at home.

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Conclusion

From the investigation it is clear that Josiah Wedgwood revolutionised the earthenware industry. Wedgwood’s sales and marketing strategy was revolutionary, the way he executed his ideas was also very impressive for the time. In order for consumers to see his products, Wedgwood used a strategy of starting at the head, which was the Queen herself and working down to the inferior members of society. This strategy was somewhat genius, the use of Royal patronage bought Wedgwood vast business and was hugely effective and revolutionary for the time. By displaying his wares in the Queen’s court he was able to attract the custom of the nobility and middle classes. However Wedgwood did not stop at just the Queen of Britain, eventually he went onto attract business from other monarchs throughout Europe such as Catherine the Great of Russia and the German Royal family. Through his partner Thomas Bentley’s diplomatic contacts, Wedgwood sold ware throughout Europe. The way in which he customized his ware to suit the taste of each region was also revolutionary. The showrooms of London was also an important piece of Wedgwood’s strategy. Even the mannor of how the ware was displayed in these showrooms was ahead of its time. The issue of the Wedgwood catalogue was also ground breaking considering it had never been done before in the earthenware industry. What strikes me most about Wedgwood is the fact that his methods are still in use today. The use of Royal patronage to promote his products is very similar to today’s model of using celebrities to promote products. Even today companies still distribute catalogues to promote their products, something Wedgwood should get a lot more credit for. Wedgwood’s ideas were very revolutionary and it is somewhat remarkable that companies still use his methods today. Josiah Wedgwood will undoubtedly go down in history as a master potter but he was truly a sales and marketing genius.

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Cite this Essay

A Study Of Josiah Wedgwood’s Sales And Marketing Methods. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-josiah-wedgwoods-sales-and-marketing-methods/
“A Study Of Josiah Wedgwood’s Sales And Marketing Methods.” GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-josiah-wedgwoods-sales-and-marketing-methods/
A Study Of Josiah Wedgwood’s Sales And Marketing Methods. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-josiah-wedgwoods-sales-and-marketing-methods/> [Accessed 25 May 2024].
A Study Of Josiah Wedgwood’s Sales And Marketing Methods [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Mar 12 [cited 2024 May 25]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-josiah-wedgwoods-sales-and-marketing-methods/
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