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A general Carrera discussion

6976 Views 73 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  thomas
Really this is a response to Tropi who has made a comment aimed at the UK market but I do applaude the efforts of Thomas to bring us Carrera news and European Carrera fans no doubt all give Thomas the big thumbs up.

Ultimately its all about how pro-active companies are and the amount of investment they make in the marketing of slot cars to the masses.

No amount of service matters if a company does not promote its products. The products will just gather dust.

Its one thing e-stockists stocking product, but is the product selling?

The issue for slot car companies worldwide is the nature of return that they get from any marketing investment.

Like tobacco companies are they attempting to switch existing users of other brands in what is perceived as a flat market, or expand the market as a whole and create growth?

Most slot car companies know where there marketing bread is buttered. Some retailers in the UK are good at promoting product locally by getting out and seeing the people but they possibly get support for this. No doubt the same situation occurs in Germany and Spain. This is over and above direct promotion of the hobby by the slot car manufactures themselves which can be very expensive and therefore has financial risk.

Considering for example that Carrera have exclusive rights to the Ferrari F1 cars, have any of you seen any promotional spend by Carrera at all in the UK to promote this fact?

They are simply reliant on the goodwill of enthusiasts in the UK to purchase the cars.

Argos carried an advert before Xmas on TV promoting Scalextric which was as a result of some effort by Hornby. Would Carrera have been willing to have made the same investment in the UK market?

And how has the "Argos" sale gone down with many of the e-tailors that we support here? Some of us know the answer!

I have said this before and I will say it again. To the great mass of the population Scalextric marketing in Germany broadly promotes Carrera. SCX marketing in the UK broadly promotes Hornby Scalextric. Hornby marketing as Superslot in Spain broadly promotes Spanish Scalextric. This is the conundrum for slot car manufacturers. America is the one market where it is a true free for all IMHO but there are Americans at SCI who would say otherwise.

UKsqueezea and a few others know where I am coming from here.

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As a Yank, I have been following this thread with somewhat bemused fascination, esp. when "wild west" epithets collide with Italian colloquialisms. I understand expressions of brand loyalty and even a degree of nationalistic pride are almost inevitable when discussing these types of issues. However, from an outside-the-UK perspective, I honestly don't understand what you guys are arguing about. It seems that Carrera are being taken to task for making their product line desirable to UK consumers, and that they somehow do not deserve to be accorded recognition in the local market because they haven't done enough grass-roots public relations work. Is that right?

Just call me cynical, but why do you think any company conducts promotional work? To promote their products! Sure, giving products to local hospitals or to other worthy causes is a good thing, but ultimately it improves the giver's corporate image and brand name recognition. If Scaley gives away quantities of free goods and conducts traveling road shows in an effort to grow the hobby, who do you think is the most direct beneficiary of their largess and efforts? Isn't it enough that Carrera have improved their products and expanded their offerings? Doesn't that in itself also grow the hobby and provide many more options to the consumer? Would you prefer that they launch a major promotional effort in your backyard, likely to the detriment of Scaley sales?

I realize that the slot market is not necessarily a zero-sum game, but we are talking about a competitive business after all. I'm just happy to have the choices in today's market, and am not at all bothered about questions of territory, undeserved recognition, etc. Ultimately, the quality of the products offered will determine where my hobby dollars are spent.

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Thank you Jonny. Hornby do a lot and are unsung heroes to a lot of kids in trouble in the UK.

No doubt Carrera and Techi-Toy do similar good work in their respective countries so lets give all of them a big hand!

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My understanding of this thread -

'the wider recognition of carrera (in the UK)' - this to me relates to the facvt you can go into a specialist slot car shop, and find lots of ninco track, scx, scalextric, but almost always no carrera.

The cars are fairly widespread, but less so than scx or even fly. Perhaps the quality 'deserves' a higher profile?

This is the issue which some people have been replying to.

And Mopeds (I think valid, if not unquestionable) thought was: No, just having a good product is not enough to take up that kind of shop floor and stock space/money. The company should do some marketing and advertising in the UK if they are to expect the product to be seen for what it is, and have a place amongst the front runners.

My opinion of the argos sets is that they will not develope a foothold in the uk for carrera, because the kids who get the sets will not be able to easily get extra track and track accesories. If they want to expand, it will be easier to start again with scalex.scx or ninco (unless they finf SF and all the greeat links and help available here!)
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Let's all take a deep breath here, shall we.

First point. This thread was split from another because it was going off topic to allow the theme that developed further discussion. It could have been shut down. But it wasn't.

Secondly, there have been over 28,000 posts on this forum. I think, I'm not certain, that I have personally shut down three or four. Some others have also been shut down. I know not how many. But, to keep the cowboy motif going, I don't think the Mods can be accused of being trigger happy. This one's looking iffy now toys are being thrown out of prams but all Mope was asked to do was explain himself then it took on a different light.

It's not like anyone called him a name or anything, is it?

Thirdly. Moped does get a lot of flak, not just from Mods, for making statements that he cannot or will not back up. It's his style and it's what earnt him a ban previously. If I, or others have no knowledge of what he is talking about we are perfectly within our rights to ask him to enlighten us. Or aren't we?

I had no knowledge that Scaley had given so much as a warm throttle to any Hospital. Why on earth couldn't he say that, if that is what he was refering to. There are that know and there are those that don't know but would like to ask the question and get an answer.

I could definitely be more tolerant if there was less stuff, nonsense and hyperbole.

But dragging this kicking and screaming back to some semblance of the topic, Speedie is right about roadshows and alike. It's called marketing, it's called PR and it's supposed to grow the brand specifically. It ain't pure altruism. Hornby were stuck with a load of well used gear after that Short Circuits thing, they couldn't sell it, so they gave it away. And well done to 'em for not just sticking it in a skip. They get some column inches in a local rag and the Racer, the Hospital gets a nice facility for the kiddies and it's all tax deductable presumably. Everyone is a winner.

I said earlier words to the effect that I don't think Carrera will be much of a name in the mass market here in the UK until they set up a UK arm with budget to do just that sort of thing and a lot more because, as Jonny says, it's an uphill battle with Scaley on the home turf.

I'll now put my hands up and step away from this thread because passions are getting the better of folks and I don't want to be the one that closes this one down.

Remember it's toy cars.

Edited by Wankel - I added the bold to the existing word - "presumably"
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a quick look at the scalex old news section shows that recently scaly auctioned too rare cars for cancer research. I am sure they done other stuff, but this is the spirit of what has been said. But why is this issue so important? or is it more important to question moped? Everyone on here makes some pretty wild statements and assertions from time to time, but every utterance of moped's seems to be put under the microscope.

This consistent behaviour is not name calling, though some of the deleted name calling has been none of the sort (poeple using the turn of phrase 'only an idiot would call this a such and such' to which some literal logic has been applied and interpretted as the poster calling someone else an idiot).
so, does anyone aggree with my comment on carrera?
(Trying hard to keep this thread from being thrown in the slammer…)

Astro said:
"No, just having a good product is not enough to take up that kind of shop floor and stock space/money. The company should do some marketing and advertising in the UK if they are to expect the product to be seen for what it is, and have a place amongst the front runners."

I agree partly with what you are saying -- surely increased promotional efforts from Carrera would result in greater exposure and increased sales. But it seemed to me the overall tone of the discussion was one of resentment - that Carrera was somehow riding on the coattails of Scaley marketing, and therefore already enjoy a disproportionate and undeserved visibility in the UK market compared to their lack of advertising. My apologies if my reading was way off-base.

Astro also said:
"My opinion of the argos sets is that they will not develope a foothold in the uk for carrera, because the kids who get the sets will not be able to easily get extra track and track accessories"

You may be right, but judging from discussions in the Argos thread, it appears every set on the island was bought up by SF readers - thus it is unlikely many were purchased by John Q. Public for "little Jonny."

Isn't it amazing how passionate we all become over this hobby - Italian opera (or spaghetti western) indeed!

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QUOTE - that Carrera was somehow riding on the coattails of Scaley marketing, and therefore already enjoy a disproportionate and undeserved visibility in the UK market compared to their lack of advertising

I interpretted the 'sacred text of moped' on that in a different manner, I am not sure which of us is correct. I thought he more meant that if carrera did a roadshow in the UK, it would benefit Scalextric more than it would Carrera (which I can see would have some justification - in that some people seeing the roadshow would see a 'slot' roadshow, not a 'carrera' roadshow, and end up buying the market leader ie scalextric from toys-r-us)

Seems to me that everyone on this thread completely agrees with everyone else, but is just arguing for the sake of it
[John Cleese voice]Is this the right room for an arguement?[/John Cleese voice]

or even...

[John Cleese voice]What have Carrera ever done for us, eh?[/John Cleese voice]

and to sum up..

[John Cleese in over the top French accent]Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time![/John Cleese in over the top French accent]
dont mention the war....

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The Scalextric kit that was donated was two thirds brand new and the used track and cars were in good condition. I know because I sorted it all out before I left carlton T.V.

I don`t believe that kit given away is tax deductable.
As for the marketing of the Argos sets, I think Peter was right! it is about market penetration or market share as we call it in my business & it is worth more than making an immediate profit! In fact many companies are willing to take a loss to show that they are having an impact!!! They can come up with statistics that say out of X # of slot sets sold in the UK Y% were Carrera in any particular year. Is that going to have any impact compared with the thousands of Scalextric sets sold over the years? No, but the manufacturers only sell sets once!! John Q. Normal goes to the store looking for Scalextric & sees these budget sets from Carrera, Helpful salesrep tells him that they are huge in Germany & comparable to the Scaley. Well that's it, he is sold! Now Carrera could have a problem if the did not turn out a quality product, but as most people know, they turn out a very nice product. This is known as a WIN = WIN situation in the business world, but in this situation I would call it a WIN+WIN=WIN situation. Carrera wins because they make a small dent in the U.K. market, John Q. Normal wins becuase he gets a good set for a good price & WE win, because another person is exposed to our wonderful hobby!!

As for Carrera doing promotion? First what do you think selling low cost sets is if not promotion? Secondly, If everybody knew about the Argos sets then the people who fequent this board would have less opportunity to take advantage of them before they sell out.

Just so Mope knows Scalextric had a very similar deal going here in the US @ Restoration Hardware stores, Unsold, Pony car sets were blown out @ about 1/2 price, $99 or less in a few instances. Several newbies showed up here & on SCI very shortly after!
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Mas, the market penetration idea is a very sound one. It is almost certainly NOT the reason for the discount. The set is advertised brand-un-named in a small section of the 'sale' adendum of the argos catalogue; Argos show no signs of continuing to stock any Carrera at all. All the evidence points to a massive overstocking, surprise at non-moving-stock clearance sale.

Most of the 'kids' (as opposed to informed slot-forum folk) will not know that carrera is a massive german player in the slot-world, this info is not obvious. They will have to judge for themselves the quality of the product. I expect the average kid mag racer will be jealous of the (in my experience and personal opinion) faster scalextric sport set that his mate down the road has - not realising the benefits for non-mag slideing, 1:24th scale etc.
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..don't forget in your "discussion":
Available free floorspace in Jonny's home is less than in Fritz's!
Carrera needs a lot of space!

For a quick race, Scalextric is much easier to install - Carrera is a pain for your fingers and I don't recommend it for kids!

Carrera is excellent for permanent tracks - -but how many of us have the chance to install one - and Jonny?

Agros has "overstocked" - maybe - but they have constantly sets available - and for shure had not so much stock! They are reordering Carrera... resp. the sets with the Agros-label on ist...
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Good point about the space issue Thomas. I was surprised at how much bigger the track is and the extra space needed to set it up.
I was not going to add any more to this thread but I do have to say that Thomas is very plain speaking.

At the end of the day slot car products have to be designed to accomodate the needs of the end user. This need may be very different in the UK to that of Germany and Thomas makes that point very clearly.

Why do you think slot car products have not taken off in the typical Japanese home?

Scalextric 1:24 scale (actually designed with the US market in mind at the time) suffered a very quick fate in the early 70's largely because of space issues in the UK associated with the larger track.

There is a small market for Carrera products in the UK but it may not be as large as some folk here seem to think to justify any promotional spend and the size of that small market will limit any wider recognition here. Just ask any UK retailer how fast stocks of 1:24 Carrera cars move and yet they represent remarkable value.

Europe and the USA present far better opportunities for Carrera.

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It's certainly true that Carrera track takes up a little more space.
I also agree that it's probably the most difficult track to clip together properly.
However, once it IS clipped together, it is in some ways superior to all others, as many new customers have discovered since the Argos special offers.
But additionally, Argos has enabled the exposure of a great deal more customers to the Carrera cars, which are greatly improved on previous models. However looked at, carrera have benefited from this increased exposure, many customers have benefited from some incredibly good value purchases and even some enterprising individuals have made a little on the side in reselling them. SF has benefited from some lively discussion about it too!

All in all, very positive, REAL pluses.

Argos sells an incredible range of goods, occasionally comes up with amazing value offers and it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see similar promotions taking place again, in future.
I look forward to it.

No one really KNOWS the size of a future market like this. It is far too fickle to predict with any reliability - it might or might not grow overall and individual companies' slices of that pie, whatever size it might be, will fluctuate too.
More competition is usually good for the customer, so I look forward to that too.
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..due to these reasons I've purchased a great lot of 1/24-Carrera-cars in UK - for app. half the price I've to pay here - including tax/custom duties!
(thx Sean!)

There is a market for the 1/32-cars - also in UK - because they are very reliable! Scalextric and Fly might beat them speed-wise - but if you're running an event with kids and use Carrera-cars you've not a lot of headaches!
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Good tip Thomas. I`m going to try that with the Junior events I run and see how we go mate. I am certainly impressed with the quality all round.

As for how this went down as a marketing exercise? Well all I know is that in the Midlands all the sets were bought up very quickly by very few people, most alerted by the Forum. Looked to me just like a clear out and nothing clever. Joe public (that I meet every week at the club) hasn`t got a clue and if it`s not Scalextric then they don`t want to know. That`s not my opinion as I have been asked by Nikko for feedback/help and to be honest I think it`s a great product, when you keep the Carrera cars on Carerra track. Taking on Scalextric in Uk is a mammoth task and when you look at the set up at nikko then you understand they have a very difficult job indeed.

Not one racer at Phoenix uses a Carerra car,probably because we are a Ninco circuit. Gary Skipp got a Bentley on saturday so we shall see....
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And my bently is the absolute dogs danglies on sport track at home

Fast, grippy, but when you push it, it slides just nicely. I find the newer scaley cars don't need control to slide, it just sometimes happens when you go a wee bit fast.

I'll see how it goes at Phoenix tomorow, watch this space.
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