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A general Carrera discussion

6964 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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Well I'm a newcomer as a direct result of the Argos sale. I must admit I hadn't reckoned on it being the science that it is and this would no doubt put off a casual buyer.

That said, I'm right into it now, the track is great quality, I don't find it hard to build at all and it has that typically German teutonic quality.

Also, it's compatible with all the cars, so I'm quite happy.

I hope Argos drop the prices on some of the other Carrera sets
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just a few comments.

Market penetration:
I was not suggesting that Carrera or Argos knowingly were making an effort to develop the size of the Carrera market or the brand awareness in the UK. I was trying to explain that such activities wether planned or accidental may give results that are positive. The point with my description was that these kind of activities are not obvioiusly BAD for any of the stakeholders concerned. I did not mean that it was an action taken based upon some kind of master minded plan. It could have been - but it is hardly the case here.

But whatever the result there is not reason to believe that it will be a bad thing for anyone involved. Not for Carrera - since their products are rather good and therefore any customer will be pleasantly surprised for what they get for their money.

Not for Argos - since they regularly need products that they can show a good price on - the image of price cutting company is rather important - ofcourse it is good if the product is not all that popular - they do presumably make more money on other and more higher margined products... But it looks good if you can show a number of products for apparently half price (or less) in your advertisement. It is a question of image - we are not talking of the Carrera sets here as an isolated thing - the sets are just a small part of Argos marketing activities and could have been most anything (e.g. unrelated to carrera).

Not for customers - I do not think that anyone who bought these sets will think they got 'ripped of'. On the contrary I think the experience on the whole is a good one.

Not even bad for retailers - on the back of all these Argos sets one could imagine that retailers would feel a loss in market. This is a question which in a very short-sighted response would be answered with a yes. But the point is that in a longer term - this is exactly where 'market-penetration' comes into place. Many of the customers would most probably never have bought a Carrera set if it was not such a great offer. No loss in customers for those Carrera sets that otherwise would not have been bought. So in a sense you now have to see if there are people who wanted to buy Carrera sets and this Argos offer came in between so instead of getting their set from a retailer they bought it from Argos. To be honest though I cannot see that the number of these kind of customers would be very relevant. What I do see however is that there seems to be a noticable number of people buying Carrera sets from Argos - people who would not otherwise buy a Carrera set at all. So what is in it for the retailer? Well there are more people now who have a Carrera set than before - most likely at least some of them enjoyed something from their new sets. Some of those might be interested in getting some other Carrera product now (e.g. cars, track, accesories etc).

And finally because there are more Carrera branded products around this does mean that more people than before recognize the name - and might not always confuse all and everything slotcar - with 'scalextric'...

Yes it is larger - but if space really was the major point we would all be racing 1/64 scale in the UK... What is more relevant to compare is the experience - e.g. What is the point of talking about size of track when you see some 1/64 scale tracks being 35 meter long? Compared to a 10 meter Scalextric circuit or a 7 meter Carrera? What I mean is that the size discussion to me at least seems to be an 'after-the fact' discussion. In my reality at least people make the track they can fit in according to their own preferences (and if they can afford it). This will hardly be dependent on 'size of track' as a first instance - but certainly be dependent on 'what do I like to drive on' and 'what can I do with it considering the space I have'. So space is relevant but emotionally influenced choice and preferences are - I think - more relevant... After all the slotcar thing is not about 'having the largest circuit around' - but it is in my world at least about - having a nice circuit that is fun to drive. So even though UK circuits might then on average be slightly smaller (have not seen proof of this though) it is not a big enough problem - if it was we would not be racing 1/32 scale in the first place...

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Nikko - as mentioned before are the Importers for Carrera in the UK and they, like Arwico here in Switzerland (Scalextric Importers with NO interest in pushing or promoting the Company) actually do the respective Manufacturers NO favours at all.

Look at the Carrera section of the Nikko stand at Excel this year - TERRIBLE! a small out of the way display with a few dusty cars and some dumb bimbo who did not even know how the cars changed lanes when asked but simply said 'I don't have a clue . hang on' - 15 minutes later I gave up and left. No wonder Carrera struggle to gain a footing in Countries where they have to rely on Importers like these.

"Too many fingers in too many pies" is a good saying for these type of Importers.

I also hear that Nikko are dropping the 1/24 range of cars totally for the UK this year so no nice big Ferraris for you guys in Blightly

Maybe advertising budgets suffer in Countries where the market is already cornered by others or the product is little known but surely having a decent Importer with a vested interest in pushing the products would help?
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I fully agree with you Swiss - there is much to be said about competent behaviour of certain distributors in the UK. I have several examples about how Nikko in the UK have failed and I have not been impressed - on the contrary. I would be more forgiving if there was demonstrated effort made - but what I have seen so far has been rather feeble. When it comes to business - there is much to say about competencies - but in many aspects will has to be demonstrated in practice and this is related to showing interest. In many cases this is down to more than 'having' to show interest or 'feel obliged' to do certain things. And Nikko UK has in my mind at least failed to do Carrera much good. The thing with dropping the 1/24 range is a wonderful example of how to create a bad experience for your customers. The reason is that the response they gave just after christmas was that they were going to continue with the 1/24 scale range. So when some customers were ordering the 2004 range they were re-assured, until now suddenly - they are not. It is not usually seen as a trustbuilding strategy if a distributor on a launch of a new range states one thing and then AFTER they reassured their customers that they would deliver - the change their minds. Has anyone heard of 'long-term' plans? Or are we talking about 'this weeks whimp'? I have had to do with both bigger and smaller distributors that have been able to sort much more complicated business tasks than this. So size has nothing to do with these particular problems. Interest in combination with competence has though.

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...AFAIK it is NOT true, that Nikko is dropping 1/24-cars in UK! Take care when you publish such information.
@ thomas.
It may be a good idea to direct your quick judgemental comment towards Nikko UK since the information regarding them not intending to distribute 1/24 scale Carrera cars in the UK this year originates from people working at Nikko themselves. So while you might be correct in describing what Nikko at the end of the day may or may not be doing - the information that I built my comments upon is coming from the source. I am sure that there are several retailers that would be able to give a similar respons regarding this matter. There were conflicting information regarding this since several sources gave a negative response about the future of 1/24 cars in the UK while as far as I know only ONE salesperson (related to Nikko UK) stated that he would do his best to try to sort this out (no promises though) even though this did not seem to be supported otherwise...

So ok I should be careful with what I say in public - but I am not worried in this particular instance since I have hands on experience of Nikko activities during the last few years. Mostly due to a number of different 'happenings' or 'mistakes' over and over again by some less than enthusiastic members of the Nikko UK community...

I would like to make it very clear that the main reason for me to post in this subject in the first place is because I actually like many of the Carrera products and I think it is a shame that they are not dealt with in a more professional and consistent manor. So I am not interested in censoring myself in this matter - my comments are built on my personal experiences and you might disagree - that however will not make them less relevant (or real) for me. The issues with the 1/24 scale cars is only one of several - but it is only used here as an example and this was not meant as a history of Nikko UK behaviour the last few years. As you may have noticed - I am NOT talking about Carrera or even about every one working at Nikko - there is at least one person working at Nikko with a professional attitude and effort - unfortunately there is more than one person working there...

hope this clarifies some - it was not intended as an attack at Carrera or at Carrera products.
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latest update regarding availability of 1/24 scale Carrera products in the UK (according to Nikko UK):

1) all carrera 1/24 scale products have been cleared and are not expected to be in stock.
2) only new cars that are expected are the new Jaguar and the new Ferrari - but this is only expected as a 'one of' batch in 2004.
3) it is not believed that any other carrera 1/24 scale product will be available in the UK this year.

So if Thomas or anyone else has any influence on this or any other information contrary to the above statements I would be extremely pleased. Because I - and others I know - would certainly be a very happy puppy indeed if I could look forward to get other 1/24 scale Carrera products in the UK. I know I can always order it from Germany (have done so before) I find it noticably more convenient and the delivery is cheaper if I get it from a UK dealer... since I live in the UK that is.

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thx for the information Peter - I had not the intention to attack you
- but have been aware about the order for the new 1/24-cars for Nikko for the UK.
There has been a recent stock-clearing with the 1/24-cars as there has also been a change in the gearing. In 2005 there will be a MAJOR improvement of the 1/24-cars -
- so everybody tries to keep stock low. If Nikko really intends to stop promoting 1/24 in UK in genereal, I will do my best over here and use my contacts to stop that. Can't promise anything, but will try my best.
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Nikko is not the sole and exclusive distributor of Carrera in UK - that is a fact.

More than that I am not permitted to say, without making certain checks and obtaining permission.
any news yet about Carrera products and distribution in the UK?

So far the information available to me is the following:

1) Nikko is the distributor for UK.
2) From the 1/24 scale product line only the 'new' for 2004 Jaguar and the Ferraris will be available.
3) There is currently no possibility to order any 1/24 scale sets what so ever.
4) There is currently no possibility to order any other 1/24 scale cars from the 2004 catalogue - not even the for 2004 new Porsche Carrera 6.
5) No information given from Nikko UK about if any 1/24 scale ltd editions can be ordered either.

Does anyone have information to the contrary of what is described in the points above? Or additional information?

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hi uksqueezea,

with respect, what on earth are you talking about? It sounds as if its interesting, but whats it got to do with Carrera? Why were you breaking the cars - crashing them or something else? Why did he laugh? What did that have to do with the manufacturing move to china?????


I think that Carrera has the right to market their goods as they see fit. They make very good quality cars at very low prices. I'd rather they stay that way than spend consumer capital on fat geezers and pretty girlies in flash cars zooming around Europe marketing what already sells well through enthusiasts, reputation, and dedicated websites.

What Carrera really need is a back-up spares service for their recent cars and then, perhaps, more people would buy their cars.
@ screwneck - most of teh necessary parts are avbailable as spares! The problem is, that most distributors don't stock tehm! You ecen can get small accessorie parts for almost every car - spare rear wings, mirrors, antennas.... complete wheels with tires, light sets for 1/24... Ask your distributor or send a mail to carrera - it's the only slot-maufacturer I know who's repairing things, has an excellent service departement!
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