The power of name recognition

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by ksss, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,128

    I saw an ad it happened to be for Takeuchi and it said something to the effect of The power of name recognition can be more powerful than the equipment. I thought that was a profound statement. Obviously it is aimed at Bobcat being the marketshare leader in both mini ex and tracked machines (skid steers also but that didn't pertain to Takeuchi). If Bobcat was just now entering the market with its current machines. Would they immediately capture current marketshare? Would they ever reach current marketshare? Does Bobcat build a machine that is 20% better than CASE or 60% better than CAT (using marketshare percentages as a guide). I don't think any company does a better job of marketing than Bobcat. They entered the market first (although not by much) gained a commanding marketshare and have not looked back. I don't believe it is because there equipment is that great, but rather how effective they have been over the years in marketing their equipment and their brand. This is not to say that they are not innovative as they are but I think it is amazing that the name carries as much weight as it does. Especially enlight of how powerful the competition has become in the last 15 years. I think in many ways Bobcat has been passed by in the market mechanically yet they continue to be very strong in sales, due to extremely savvey marketing by capitalization of their name recognition. To many, a skid steer will always be a Bobcat (much to my dismay). I think they are now able to sell competent equipment (I would not say they are market leaders in any particular area of performance in any machine,) based soley on the name and the paint. They are able maintain or expand current marketshare. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Posts: 1,891

    I welcome criticism [hopefully constructive] to this post, especially by Digdeep. However, I'm more than willing to articulate further on the points I make below (when possible).

    [Written after the message was finished: I realized I don't have a specific point here... haha]

    Personally, I hope Bobcat reads this message. I also hope they take what I've said in the past about them to heart. They have a very competent product, not the best in all respects by any means, and they have people who are very loyal to them. (This is also true with certain Caterpillar ranges -- such as small track-type tractors.) However, I would argue that they don't market nearly aggressive enough. If you pick up a Deere magazine, you see instances -- maybe poor ethics -- of stories that each proclaim that Deere is the best machine. Period. Bobcat's Worksaver has a few issues where one or two contractors used "other brands," usually in a different size class and moving up on the Bobcat ladder, but nothing to the extent of Deere. Instead, they highlight their innovation: innovation which is pure and creative, to be sure, but they rarely focus on how their common machines -- mini-excavators without Fasttrack, skid steers, and compact track loaders -- are better than the competition. (There is one product -- the S250 -- that I will argue is a better buy than its competition.) But take a S300 against a 95XT? Hardly, even if the S300 advertises more net horsepower. "But the S300 replaces the 883," Bobcat argues. That is perfectly fine by me -- the 883 was based on the 873; the S300 is based on the S250 -- but then why call it a S300? Why not an S280? Or S285? Or take a look at the 773. It has remained much unchanged since the 7753 -- that was twelve years ago. Only in October 2005 did the 773 receive a weight increase that puts it on-par with similar product offerings in terms of weight. The wheelbase of the 773 is still the shortest wheelbase in its class -- some machines in one size lower have a longer wheelbase than Bobcat puts on its 773 -- and now, S205.

    Don't get me wrong: I love Bobcat skid-steer loaders and other products. Innovation, in the pure sense of being unique, is rampant in the company. EH controls, power attachment kit, enclosed cab, various control options, high-flow, air-conditioning, these were all more-or-less developed or perfected on Bobcat machines. That owes a lot -- in an age when most contractors might not consider AC for a full-size wheel loader, Bobcat decided not to put AC on skid steers. But as the operator environment became more and more a "desk," the creature comforts first starting appearing on Bobcat equipment. Simple and rugged sums it up pretty well. Every competitor claims that Bobcat's chaincase is weak and its axles being welded makes it impossible to service. True, but how many contractors will take the time to *properly* adjust their skid's axles and chains? Bobcat has a transverse-mounted engine that makes it difficult to get to the back of the cab. Again, true, but how often is a repair there necessary? If one does become necessary, it will usually be a major overhaul to begin with -- one that certainly would take time on any color skid steer.

    So when it comes down to it, Bobcat advertises its uniqueness in the industry. They have a decent product, superior to some competitors, and they use the innovation they have to lure new customers. The Toolcat and A300 are marvels in their day -- too expensive to be everywhere, but an amazing concept nevertheless. Durability has yet to be proven, but the average customer looking for a skid steer that is somewhat friendly on turf but can still skid has finally found a solution with acceptable durability. What Bobcat hasn't done is really invigorated its mainstream line of skids and mini-excavators. You can easily argue that the ZHS machines are pretty slick, with Fasttrack and ZHS, but the "plain old skid steers and conventional mini excavators" are barely touted. Digdeep has affirmed again and again that the ASV machines superior to Bobcat's -- yet Bobcat has no fielded a single claim otherwise. Their literature makes little mention of why their machine is the best -- it just lays out the features that make the machine "good." But any machine can be good, and looking at literature won't cut it. What Bobcat does have is a few machines that are standouts -- machines that no competitor can currently match. I wouldn't think that Cat won't go out of its way to make a Toolcat; it wouldn't seem to fit in its business portfolio. Neither will Case. Deere may be a possibility, but then, what else could it do but present a similar machine? More power? More strength? No Toolcats are falling apart left and right, and most contractors won't use a Toolcat to dig a basement anyhow. So I would argue that it's Bobcat's surprising innovation that keeps them on top. With the innovation surely comes some brand recognition, but a few more decades along, I'm not sure "White will always be right."
     
  3. all ferris

    all ferris LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,307

    hmmmm....I guess its easy to hate the "leader".
     
  4. tnmtn

    tnmtn LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NE Tn.
    Posts: 1,019

    i grew up a Cowboys fan and stayed with them through the good and bad years. this thread reminds me of that time.
     
  5. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,068

    I will agree that Bobcat has a very agressive marketing scheme. For the most part, they need it, otherwise they would get knocked right out of the #1 spot. With the exception of the Fasttrack ZHS, A300, Toolcat, and a couple other innovations, they haven't released anything that is mindblowing. If I am correct, Cat was the first to put pilot controls in skid steers and look where that got Cat in the market. Cat entered the market in 1999 and as far as I'm concerened, they're basically beating the crap out of everyone with the exception of Bobcat and Case and for good reason. Bobcat is where they are for who they are, they've been building these machines for 50 years and a name just sticks. When you get to the point where people are calling every skid steer regardless of brand a "Bobcat", you've done something right throughout the years.

    When Bobcat was building the machines in the 80's when the market really caught on, creature comforts were nothing to operators and that's how these machines were built. Yank 'em sticks that had the most simplistic grips and just a steel rod with linkage to control the hydros, a seat that more than likely came off a farm tractor, probably no safety bar, just a ruggedly built machine. The 90's came around and innovations like BOSS came out and the hydraulic attachment coupler (F series), innovations nobody thought of putting on a skid steer. Then cabs became an option, along with respective heating and A/C units. The advanced hand controls were available on the F series, but at a hefty price. Bobcat has made their way to #1 throughout the 90's.

    As we entered the new millenium, for some reason or another, equipment just exploded. If you look at what's happened with large excavators between 1996 and 2002, they are almost a completely different machine from an operator's standpoint. The cabs are extremely comfort oriented. I see this same change with skid steers, Bobcat has pushed for comfort and ease of operation, along with things that just make you want to buy the machine. Cat never entirely jumped on this bandwagon and knew that they couldn't when entering the skid steer and compact equipment market. Case, from what I've seen, is almost in the same boat as Cat, putting just enough creature comforts in the machines to make most operators happy.

    My outlook for Bobcat is fairly straightforward. Bobcat will continue to build machines for who knows how long, they will continue to attract repeat sales, and they will strive to put innovations on machines that nobody thought of. I think the people buying Bobcat currently are the ones who have bought in the past, fell for Bobcat's marketing plan, or just decided to jump on the bandwagon. Bobcat is not the best equipment made by any means, they don't produce anything that blows the wheels of anything else in regards to getting the actual work done. My honest opinion of who produces the most efficient and productive dirt slinging machine? Case, hands down. Cat behind Case, then Bobcat, New Holland, Deere, etc., etc.

    I don't hold anything against Bobcat, they produce excellent equipment. But what I get tired of hearing is how they're better than everyone else's equipment just because they've been around the longest. That simply is not true. The pilot controls epidemic has proved to be Bobcat's shortfall, they STILL haven't gotten up to speed with Cat and others who are now producing pilot controlled machine. Only time will tell how the rest of the story goes.
     
  6. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Posts: 1,891

    I'd argue against the Case being the most efficient. Productive, perhaps, with the exception of the Gehls, but on a per-size class basis, I might even wager that Deere will do pretty well nowadays. If the 332 can't stand up to a 95XT, Deere's marketing is stronger than its product for sure.

    I forgot to mention the biggest reason driving Bobcat's limited acceptance of certain features (*cough* true pilot controls). Cost. Cat is trying to make its manufacturing process leaner -- as are most companies -- but it's evident that Bobcat can produce a very inexpensive skid-steer. The electronics Bobcat uses can reduce the complexity of the system; in many cases, it may be cheaper to throw a circuit board on a machine than it would be to put an actual pilot valve and associated equipment.

    I'm hoping that one day I can get on a Bobcat and dig with it (as I have with Case and Cat) and see for myself just she stands. That's in the unforeseeable future, though, so maybe things will have changed by then.
     
  7. UNISCAPER

    UNISCAPER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,426

    I agree with KSSS in many ways. Prejudiced as I am, I've been a cAt stockholder since the 90's, my uncles company recieved their first Cat in 1932 for cutting the original site work for the "Chicago World's Fair. When the fair authority could not pay the bill, Caterpillar stepped up and gave them a D-2A to settle it. That machine now sits in front of Patten Tractor in Elmhurst, Illinois.

    Even though Outboard Marine Corporation went BK in 1990, and Johnson-Evinrude brand has begun manufacturing by Bombardier, I've gone boat and motorless because I can't push myself into buying a Mercury and would not be caught dead with a Japanese engine haning on my transom. Grandpa had a marina when I was a kid and we sold Evinrude outboards and when I was a kid I would go all over the neighborhood telling people that Mercury pollution had to be stopped........I mean't Mercury outboards of course, I was not a leftest environmentalist whacko

    I would rather push a dead Harley than strattle a crotch rocket, even in those dooms day AMF years. You would not catch me dead with a Kawasaki engine on any small equipment I own. Too many thrown rods and failed warranty claims to ever buy one again. And last, you got yer truck guys. I have had them all, and after failure after failure of recent year electronic shift Ford trucks, they turned me in to a brand sensitive (GM) owner.

    Back to brand recongniton in general. I make my living selling billable hours. If when I had the small issues I have had with our Cat products, they told me they could not get to me for 3 days as Bobcat has told folks out here that use many of their machines in a fleet, I would look at another brand in a New York minute. But, when the Caterpillar service truck has never been over an hour away, when we lost a turbo a new machine was given, and they called after we got ours back to say they needed to change our engine, when they could well have let it go so the engine blew out of waranty, that is what keeps me comming back.

    I don't get some of the truck guys, like my friend who is on his 5th turbo and 2nd transmission on an 05 F-350. He's already talking about hanging on for 6 months and trading for an 07 F series. The minute I ad that much trouble with any brand, I would look very hard at the next brand.
     
  8. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,799

    To me, Bobcat is pretty similar to Ford...Good, but flawed products that sell by brand loyalty while all the other companys have passed them up in technology.
     
  9. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,068

    Bill, you're an exception to the rule, you are so brand loyal! I guess I'm somewhat the same way, I refuse to ride any motorcycle unless it says Honda on the side, I run only Stihl hand tools, John Deere is the only acceptable farm tractor, and Cat is all we will continue to operate.
     
  10. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    Time after time I see Ford products bashed here on Lawnsite.

    I pray to God Almighty that you guy's are wrong.

    I have a 1999 Ford F-250 V-10 2WD Auto trans with 97K on it. I bought it used with 13K on it. Only thing I've done to it I thought was outside normal wear and tear was replace the drivers electric window motor at like 40K miles.
    I keep the fluids and filters changed.

    I just bought a 2004 Ford F-250 4WD PSD Auto trans with 30K on it. It needs new tires....

    I run them both hard daily. I tow heavy weight with them both daily.

    I love my Ford trucks.
     

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