Author Topic: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...  (Read 2004 times)

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rapidotrains

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As you guys know, I have only recently had to learn the N scale ropes after Mike passed away, and I now manage our N scale models. So I am relatively new to the N scale world.

Whenever we post anything HO-related on our Facebook page, we get inundated with "when will this be announced in N scale?" or similar posts. Some of them occasionally get quite angry - people can get really pissed off that we've made yet another model that they want but in the wrong scale.

Last month we posted HO scale mystery boxes on our Facebook page. These are boxes for $150 filled with random stuff from our warehouse. The FIRST comment was "shame its on HO mystery boxes and not any N Scale ones" (I think he meant "it's only" not "its on"). The 21 HO mystery boxes sold out in less than two hours.

So over the weekend we launched the N scale mystery boxes. Of the 21 we made, eight are still available two days later. So we went back and counted how many people complained that the HO boxes weren't available in N scale. Nine people made comments that we should produce mystery boxes in N, or shame they weren't in N, etc. Of those nine people, only ONE bought the N scale box, and that original poster wasn't one of them.

What this suggests to me is that we can't take the requests for N scale as being "hard" requests. I think a lot of N scalers request that we produce models in N as a way of "helping the team" - i.e. the more we ask for N scale models, the more likely we'll see more N scale, even if we have absolutely no need for whatever model we've just asked for. If I go back and look at our emails and social media, I see the same people asking for wildly different models in N scale. I don't think many SP modellers really plan to order a VIA Rail Canada F40...

As a manufacturer, I think that's the wrong approach. If you don't plan to buy a model, please don't ask us to make it in N. If we listen to all the people "cheering for the N team" and then make a model that nobody buys, it will make us very hesitant when it comes to future N scale models as we won't know what people actually want.

Thoughts?

-Jason


wcfn100

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 10:11:04 AM »
+1
Thoughts?



Don't listen to Facebook?  The fact you'd even call a Facebook request a "hard request" is worrisome.

Jason

Rossford Yard

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 10:23:13 AM »
0
Trying to determine if I have ever been guilty of that, and what I might do if I suspected I did do that.

For one, I asked Paul Graf of Atlas to do a GP38-2 in IHB.  But, that was five years ago, when I had an IHB themed layout.....Now, its coming and I have a much smaller, differently themed layout.  I will probably buy two (sound, yay!) since I can justify any road on my little switching layout....just not all at the same time as before. That is all I would have bought years ago, because IHB only had 2 of those anyway.

DRD asked for Carbon Black hoppers, which are now miraculously out on the street.  But, in the five years since he started his campaign, he has switched to N.  So, sometimes, with delays, things change, new railroad, life situation or whatever.

On the other hand, I also recall an mfg. who went ahead with the model due to high levels of demand on various forums, and those sold poorly.  Predicting sales has to be a frustrating experience, and I can see why mfgs stick with F7 and GP7 models, along with box cars, etc.  We have had threads about nearly everything and every product. Once, long ago on a forum far, far away, an mfg. came on with a very specific criteria for N.  First, with few exceptions (unit train cars like coal and grain) N sells about 25-30% of HO for similar models, structures, etc.  It has to really, really be a "hit" in HO to consider it for N.

And, that was back in the supposed hey day of N, where we thought it was about half the size of HO,  and on its way to becoming equal with HO.  Now, based on LHS stock and what not, it appears N's not making the headway it once was in terms of sales.  (Granted, that may be us shopping on the net, and the resulting downward spiral of LHS stock that results).  So, its not 30%N and 60%HO among modelers, it appears its more like 20% and 60%, or about a third.

That makes for some disproportionately difficult decisions to make certain models, and I am more amazed at what they do put out in N, vs. teed off at what they don't.  It appears I am atypical, LOL>
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 10:26:13 AM by Rossford Yard »

pdx1955

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 10:36:13 AM »
0
Hmmm...looks like I took the wrong month to wean myself off of FB , so I had no idea on the boxes. But again, given what you produce and the eras, I wouldn't have said anything as I wouldn't have purchased anything as my Rapido purchases are very specific. FB is a poor source anyway - you need to have lots and lots of responses for anything to be somewhat scientific, otherwise its just noise. You got to have multiple sources for the "hard" data

I may answer "one for the team" on generic polls, but anything tied to a specific manufacturer, especially something from a manufacturer, if I respond, its for something I can use. The more I need, the more likely I'll say something especially if it seems to match what a company could do - NP radial roof boxcars and Baldwin road-switchers come to mind for example. I have a soft spot for NH EP-5's, and I think that would be great in N, but I won't say anything as I wouldn't buy it (I'll stick with my Lionel 2350 look-alike).

The HO market is different from N and a lot of the times its the sheer variety that the larger market can offer versus N which seems to attract the "popular" models so we get get a lot of duplication (GG1/SD70/Coalporters/etc anyone?) . This can be frustrating especially to hobbyists that have been around for a long time. 

Peter

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tom mann

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 10:43:46 AM »
+1
Don't listen to Facebook?  The fact you'd even call a Facebook request a "hard request" is worrisome.

Jason

Agree, most of those were probably Russian trolls.

I'm willing to bet if you asked on Railwire it would be pretty accurate. I know this because of the Bryan and Lee custom runs that are planned here.

Dave V

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 10:44:22 AM »
0
As much as I like how Rapido does business and as much as I miss Mike, I was never really your target N scale audience so I never made a request.

That said, I know I may have made requests through other manufacturers (I'm thinking BLI primarily) for prototypes I needed but when the process takes as many years as it sometimes does, it's quite possible that many of the requesters have moved on (figuratively and literally, unfortunately).  I don't think I'm going to end up buying a BLI PRR T1 in N scale because by the time it hits the shelves I won't have an N scale Pennsy because I've moved on to HOn3.  I won't hold my own hobby interests and desires hostage to what a manufacturer might or might not do on an unknown timeline.  As far as I've read, Rapido seems to have been pretty good about timelines and delivering products you've announced, but that's a rarity among manufacturing these days.

EDIT:  I know that doesn't excuse this particular situation, i.e., the mystery boxes.  I agree that it sounds like it was more an expression of butthurt than an intent to buy, and that's just crappy.

It's not just an N scale thing either...  Hearing the other HOn3 guys bellyache about the long-awaited-but-never-here Blackstone K-28 and K-36 reminds me an awful lot of what I found myself saying in 12+ years we waited for the BLI/PCM M1.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 10:48:34 AM by Dave V »
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Philip H

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2018, 10:56:11 AM »
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Jason,

As always - thanks for weighing in and keeping us honest. Its one of your better traits as a manufacturer, and its earns you  mega respect point around here. 

And I feel ya on the boxes.  I didn't clamor for one - my budget for March was cratered when ScaleTrains delivered their carbon black hoppers (and I am only getting two of them). And that vignette illustrates what I see as your major challenge.

With the shift by most N scale manufacturers to  pre-orders for most new items (like the carbon black hoppers) most of us as hobbyists are loosing control of our hobby budgets.  Your GMD-1 (Which I really want) was actually released in the middle of a major house renovation, so while I did push Mike as hard as anyone to have Rapido release it, I couldn't buy at that point. And now I have to rely on eBay or some other source to find the unit I want.  I REALLY want one of your LRV's in N scale - Its totally not prototype for my locale or era, but if it comes out at the right time I intend to buy one.   Can I commit beyond a shadow of a doubt now to doing something about that purchase?  Only if you will take 6 months same as cash or some similar approach.

The other problem with the pre-orders is, of course, actual time to delivery.  The Railwire is chock a block full of tales of people pre-ordering items, and then three or four years pass and the item comes out, only for them to have moved on or be not cash flush.  That's not because manufacturers are withholding information or reigning back production to create problems, but it doesn't help the situation (see SD40-2, Intermountain) for one such saga.

And frankly, to have sold the bulk of your Mystery Boxes 48 hours in isn't too shabby.  As others have noted the information chain may not have hit everyone at the same time, and so others may well buy once they know about it. Don't make the mistake Walthers made years ago of practically writing off N scale while sitting on tooling and products that actual N Scalers pay actual money (usually inflated money) for on the secondary market.  And don't hold the Loudly Complaining Louts (LCL) against the rest of us. 

Thanks for listening,
Philip
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Point353

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2018, 11:25:50 AM »
+2
As you guys know, I have only recently had to learn the N scale ropes after Mike passed away, and I now manage our N scale models. So I am relatively new to the N scale world.

Whenever we post anything HO-related on our Facebook page, we get inundated with "when will this be announced in N scale?" or similar posts. Some of them occasionally get quite angry - people can get really pissed off that we've made yet another model that they want but in the wrong scale.

Last month we posted HO scale mystery boxes on our Facebook page. These are boxes for $150 filled with random stuff from our warehouse. The FIRST comment was "shame its on HO mystery boxes and not any N Scale ones" (I think he meant "it's only" not "its on"). The 21 HO mystery boxes sold out in less than two hours.

So over the weekend we launched the N scale mystery boxes. Of the 21 we made, eight are still available two days later. So we went back and counted how many people complained that the HO boxes weren't available in N scale. Nine people made comments that we should produce mystery boxes in N, or shame they weren't in N, etc. Of those nine people, only ONE bought the N scale box, and that original poster wasn't one of them.

What this suggests to me is that we can't take the requests for N scale as being "hard" requests. I think a lot of N scalers request that we produce models in N as a way of "helping the team" - i.e. the more we ask for N scale models, the more likely we'll see more N scale, even if we have absolutely no need for whatever model we've just asked for. If I go back and look at our emails and social media, I see the same people asking for wildly different models in N scale. I don't think many SP modellers really plan to order a VIA Rail Canada F40...

As a manufacturer, I think that's the wrong approach. If you don't plan to buy a model, please don't ask us to make it in N. If we listen to all the people "cheering for the N team" and then make a model that nobody buys, it will make us very hesitant when it comes to future N scale models as we won't know what people actually want.

Thoughts?

-Jason
Are you complaining that you only sold 13 out of 21 boxes of  "leftovers" within just two days?
Plus, you had the time to comb through a bunch of facebook posts to determine whether or not someone who requested your N scale "mystery box" actually ordered one?
What this suggests to me is that you must have lots of spare time on your hands to devote to something that must contribute relatively little to the bottom line.

IMO, your time would be much better spent trying to determine why the DCC decoders you use appear to be incompatible with a certain mass-market power pack, and then fixing that problem. Wouldn't that have a much greater positive impact on your operations, as opposed to blaming the manufacturer of said power pack and excluding all of its users from your customer base?

As separate issue, why do you even need to use facebook for business related issues when you already have a company website?

mmagliaro

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2018, 11:38:17 AM »
0
Regarding the mystery boxes,

1. Facebook is not as "wide" an audience as everyone thinks it is.  It reaches a lot of people, but not necessarily the
right people.   I think HO customers are a much wider, general audience than N, so I would expect to hit more of the HO audience through Facebook than N Scale.   Forums (like railwire) and maybe a direct email blast to an N Scale mailing list
would probably get better response for things like a special on those boxes.

2. You sold out 21 HO boxes in 2 hours.  Given that N Scale still probably has only 1/4 of the customers of HO, that would only
be about 4-5 such boxes in N.   While it's true that the HO sold out in 2 hours and may have sold more if you had more, you really don't know that.  Maybe it would only have sold 40, tops, even after several days, in which case, 1/4 of that would be 10, so you still would have done pretty well selling 13 boxes in N Scale.

Oh... and yeah... if you make those NP radial roof boxcars in N Scale, I'll buy a few - not a dozen, but 2 or 3.  And this
isn't on Facebook, so you can believe me.  :)

Ngineer

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2018, 11:50:32 AM »
+4
As others have noted the information chain may not have hit everyone at the same time, and so others may well buy once they know about it.

I NEVER, NEVER use Facebook.

I rely on The Railwire to find information regarding model trains, so this is the first time I hear of these boxes.

Don't rely too much on Facebook.

   Javier

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2018, 12:00:46 PM »
0
I certainly don't speak for anybody else, but whenever I ask for something in a public forum, it is guaranteed there is money on the table for it.

Jason's experience doesn't help my perceptions of FB that it is mostly too-casual noise.
...mike

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p51

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2018, 12:27:32 PM »
0
N scale is exploding within the hobby these days, so much so that when I go to shows, I am starting to see as much N as I am HO for sale. That was never the case in the past. The quality within N scale has increased dramatically, to the point where it's now considered a good scale to model in other than just getting  a lot of layout into a small space.
So with that, I guess the devotees of that scale are getting more demanding about more stuff?
I do know when I see HO stuff, I get cranky as to how little O scale items are out there.
A vendor decided to make a ET&WNC bridge kit but only in S scale. Nobody makes anything for that RR in S scale, but Bachmann (and other companies) make a lot of their locomotives and cars in On30. No O scale version of the bridge, though. I don't get that, even though I have no room for the bridge on my layout even if they made a kit in O. So, I'd probably complain, "Why not my scale?" when I have no need for the kit in that scale anyway.
Facebook is not as "wide" an audience as everyone thinks it is.
FB is more like a cult. Those who are on it get the idea that every man, woman and child are on it 24/7. You can't get some of the FB 'cultists' to understand that large portions of humanity aren't on it and never have been.
This is especially true in this hobby, where many are more toward the elderly side of the age scale and have zero need for (or understanding of) social media.
"I'm on Facebook as are all my FB pals," the cultists will say, "So how come you're not?" The more FB focused ones, when you tell them you don't 'do' social media, will look at you as if you just told them you refuse to ride in automobiles or use electricity (but you're not Amish).

Englewood

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2018, 12:28:22 PM »
0
I have a theory. There are modelers who actually have a layout or are really building one. They spend time and money on the hobby. Then you have internet modelers, who spend all day talking models on the internet, but do very little, if any, modeling or buying. They not only want a Baldwin switcher, but it has to be a phase IIa to fit the era of the layout they're never going to build. Then when the model they wanted finally gets produced, well, the headlights are too dim or the battery box only has 3 latches when it should be 4, or some other lame excuse for not buying it. There seems to be a pissing contest on a lot of forums as to who knows the most about trains. I worked at a hobby shop a few years back, and I'll never forget one customer we had. He'd preordered a couple of new boxcars, and when they came in he lost his marbles. He'd emailed the manufacturer countless time with pictures of the model and what they had to make sure and get right and they didn't listen to him. I was reminded of a 3 year old child having a tantrum.
I think forums and social media are bad places to do market research. You have a small vocal minority who spend all their free time on the keyboard and not in the layout room. I'm assuming you don't have a large budget to hire a marketing firm to poll N scalers to find out what they want and will actually buy. I don't know what the answer is. Pre-ordering seems to work. Not enough orders, don't produce.
Personally, I'll buy anything Southern Pacific or intermodal.  :D

pdx1955

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2018, 12:35:33 PM »
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I do FB advertising for an event for for one of the organizations that I belong to. I have a custom targeted audience and even with that, there is very little connection between the number of views, the number of tentative attendees, the number of "will attend" and the number that actually show up. You have to have "critical mass" between the number of likes and the overall population - the MR population (and especially a small fraction of the total) is a bit too small for this to occur - all the $$ in the world isn't going to solve that. I back things up with specific hobbyshop advertising - which is the bulk of the attendees.  In this case, that's the where the "choir" is - forums like the Railwire/TB, etc. Marketing is always a bit of a crapshoot - what people say is not always what they do. I do surveys to see what works or not - it takes time - and there is just as many flameout years as good ones. You just have to have enough information and go with your gut - If I relied on FB only - that's way too much risk.
Peter

"No one ever died because of a bad question, but bad assumptions can kill"

bobdobbs

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Re: Please don't ask for an N model if you don't intend to buy it...
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2018, 12:38:02 PM »
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Any update on when the Pendolino models will hit North America?
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