Conclusion on Tamiya On-Road platform

Close to 40 years of Tamiya production in the on-road segment were reviewed, from the very first “models in motion” to the latest modern cars aimed at niche markets like drift or rally. Over 30 years with huge successes and a constant need to reinvent and adapt to any market need and public taste.

Strategically, Tamiya very soon understood the main public interest: variety. Actually, a chassis is something holding a bodyshell for a majority of people mainly interested in the look of the model (and the price, of course). Especially since Tamiya always made profit of their know-how in static models to offer extremely realistic bodyshells: this is one of their key-assets.

Another key-aspect of Tamiya's strategy is to have continuously worked almost every segment of the market, either as a forerunner or among the market leaders. This is a second considerable asset: the faculty to adapt, either commercially or in terms of product design.

Last, Tamiya always focused on improving existing chassis instead of radically designing form a clean slate: it is always better to benefit from the experience acquired from the previous generation, including migrating technical solutions from different product lines. Development costs keep lower and the production tools get more profitable.

Unlike the vast majority of other RC manufacturers, Tamiya first aim at the general public. Because nobody was born a top driver: before all, the market is leisure-oriented and leisure use is the entry to RC for about everyone. Aiming only at the racing public is dangerous in many ways:

  • fidelity to a brand is a non-sense in racing: the personal result of the driver is the only thing that counts. The model used will be the best a driver can afford at the beginning or even during the season
  • innovation must be constant to remain at the top: this implies very heavy research and development costs that can not be covered by production volumes, so they need to be covered by the price of the final product

The racing sector is a high-risk activity, both on economical and industrial sides. Of course, the racing activity can be transposed on general public models, but the brand image will depend on race results: any “miss” in high-end racing will result in general public sales decrease, depriving the manufacturer of critical financial resources to close their technological gap in high-end racing. Then it becomes very difficult to build a correct market strategy in these changing conditions: the manufacturer's durability becomes precarious. RC history counts many examples responding to this description.

Tamiya was smart when choosing a totally opposite strategy: thanks to very good looking, affordable, easy to build and varied models, they meet the general public demands. The general public being less demanding performance-wise, the manufacturer can optimize their industrial and financial profitability offering themselves greater durability. More over, customer fidelity is easier to keep with the general public, which is vital for a manufacturer.

Without forgetting their core market, Tamiya could develop a high-end racing activity that quickly won world championships to the point of even dominating outrageously the Touring category. But the vast majority of race drivers first began with a leisure-oriented model before getting more seriously involved into racing: the brand fidelity acts precisely there, allowing Tamiya to stand on both segments of market.

In addition to this, one of Tamiya's assets is they started offering hop-ups very soon. A vast catalog of option parts is available to every model, either to improve performance or the chassis look. Apart from the inevitable financial windfall, they carry another strategic key-feature: the customer can improve his model performance and generate racing appetites. In a very natural way, he will first look into Tamiya's performance-oriented models whenever he looks for more performance than he already has, because he already knows the brand. From entry-level or middle-range models, the Hop-Ups make customers want more performance, go upmarket to more expensive models.

Tamiya's overall strategy for on-road vehicles improved a lot over 30 years, but it always relied on their core market (the general public) and their model know-how (realistic bodyshells). Overall, this strategy is basically the opposite of their competitors who mostly focus on their risky racing activity to exist.

Tamiya is the general public market leader thanks to a formidable and efficient strategy and a cutting-edge know-how. In addition, Tamiya perfectly manage the synergy between markets:

  • a static model customer willing to see his models move will naturally look for the brand's RC models, and reverse
  • a customer willing to improve the performance of his model will naturally look into the Hop-Ups offering, and if he still wants more, he will first look into Tamiya's offering to find a better chassis, especially because parts are often compatible from one model to another.

Reviewing Tamiya's on-road platforms shows that they didn't step into RC without a clear strategy as soon as 1976. Over more than 30 years, this strategy improved and proved how pertinent it was, including at the time of literally transforming the market. Very soon, Tamiya did everything they had to in order to count on the market and to become the leader. The core strategy of Tamiya is very similar to real-size automobile manufacturers': Tamiya is the only one manufacturer who succeeded in adapting it to RC.


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