Question of Curiosity - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
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post #1 of 26 Old 10-13-2017, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Question of Curiosity

To all the Yamaha owners and fans:
I'm in the market for a new snowblower and during my 3 months of research, I quickly realized that Yamaha machines are not available here in the US. Does anyone know why? It seems like Yamaha is missing out on a very huge opportunity having such a high-quality product along with the fact that all of their other items such as snowmobiles, boat engines, musical instruments, ATV's, motorcycles, etc., are all very reputable and do very well here. Why have they held back in this particular market? Again, this is strictly my curiosity causing the inquiry.

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post #2 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 07:35 AM
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Honestly, no one has a definitive answer as to why they pulled out of the US market, all we can do is speculate. They did start selling them again in Canada about 10 years ago or so but did not do the same for the US market. A few times some folks reached out to yamaha corporate HQ to see if they'd ever sell them here again and were told "No".

It cant be emissions related as the MZ motors that power the yamaha snowblowers can be found on many third party generators, power washers etc.

It cant be dealer network or the lack thereof as Yamaha motorsport dealers are all over the country.

The only thing I can think of is lack of demand of a high end, high price, high quality piece of equipment. We live in a time when most folks much rather buy a $500 machine that would service them for 4~5 years and then be replaced with a new one for the same money. Its tough to reason with them to spend 5 times more than their average snowblower cost to buy a machine that would last 5 times longer.

Even for Canada, I guess Yamaha is fine with selling the number of machines that they do sell in Canada. My local Etobicoke, ON dealer for Yamaha snowblowers told me that they sell about five 624s a season and one or two 1028s; he also mentioned that they sell many many more times the number of Toros etc.

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post #3 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Very interesting. I guess when you think about it, all of Yamaha's products that I mentioned in the OP, can be used in 100% of the physical US. As for snowmobiles - you can potentially travel somewhere with them to play in the snow if you're not in an area that receives regular snowfall. Snowblowers are an exception. They're a tool first and a toy second - for most, anyway. You probably would be quite hard-pressed to find a snowblower in Miami, Dallas, Phoenix or Los Angeles with the exception of a few collectors, some relocated folks who didn't bother to get rid of their machine for some reason and of course, doomsdayers who tend to have EVERYTHING. But you WILL find them throughout 100% of Canada, guaranteed. Perhaps that, along with the fact that there are many other manufacturer's in the US, is what have kept them at bay. If Yamaha snowblowers were here, it would be very interesting to see the cost-effects between them and Honda. I'm willing to bet that we'd benefit.

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post #4 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 09:31 AM
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The new HSS series Honda blowers are made/assembled here in the US, only the motors are sourced from the Honda plants in Asia (Thailand if I can recall). So the cost of producing Honda blowers is positively affected at least from Honda's point of view. The older HS models were built and imported from Japan.

Whereas except for the smaller YS624 (which gets assembled/built in China) the rest of the Yamaha lineup is produced in Japan.

The whole demand and supply logic doesnt make sense in this situation, Yamaha offers only three models to the whole Canada where as it offers at least half a dozen if not more in Japan. I dont have raw numbers but I am sure the demand for Yamaha snowblowers in Japan is far less than the US, not to mention Yamaha has just as many competitors, may be even more, in Japan than here in the US.

Only a couple manufacturers can compete with Yamaha's quality, engineering, dependability etc here in the US where as in Japan that number of competitors is much higher.



So one would think that with the network of dealers that Yamaha already has here in the US it would be a no brainer to reintroduce the snowblowers but I guess there is way more to this story than we can come up with.

The ONLY thing that makes any sense/reason as to why Yamaha bailed on the US market and is refraining from coming back is the consumer culture of not justifying paying that much money for a machine that gets used a few months of the year. The only tangible thing that most US market consumers look at is price and they cant justify the price difference.Yamaha beats pretty much all the others in the intangibles but cant beat them on the tangible of price. Sadly the few folks that CAN justify spending the money to get a quality machine to last an eternity are not enough to have the pull, at least for now, to bring Yamaha snowblowers back to the states.

Last edited by JnC; 10-14-2017 at 09:46 AM.
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post #5 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 09:44 AM Thread Starter
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Absolutely 100% agreed. Obviously, if there was money to be made, they'd be doing it. I'd love to pick the brains of the Yamaha brass to find out. It's probably one of those things (or several of those things) that make perfect sense that we just can't see from our standpoint.

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post #6 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 09:52 AM
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Yamaha will not go out of business by declining to sell snowblowers in the U.S. market. Honda is a giant here and and have staked their claim so Yamaha does not want to ruffle any feathers. If Honda wanted to wipe Yamaha motorcycle sales off the map they could. Peaceful coexistence.

One could also ask where are all the Honda PWC's

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post #7 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 10:12 AM
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The Japanese Mafia may be involved.

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post #8 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orangputeh View Post
The Japanese Mafia may be involved.
Now that's funny right there, I don't care who you are....

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post #9 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 09:40 PM
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Now that I've put my spreadsheet together I can see why they'd struggle (Yamaha).
Have you all seen it.. if not ... look at my sig and check it out

Look at Ariens... they have models that fill the entire spectrum of categories
low cost cheap but good enough
higher cost better performance
highest cost best performance
On top of that their Bang-per-Buck are the best ones

So to compete Yamaha would need to decide where they intend to compete.
lower-end?
mid-range?
higher-end?

If Yamaha tried to do it all they'd need a bunch of models and a bunch of price ranges (they either need to exist in the US market or redefine the market)

Yamaha only have 3 models available in Canada as far as I can tell
Arguably one in each category.. maybe.. However, they have other models in Japan too. That's a different market.

See the bottom of this link for their FULL range : https://translate.google.com/transla...r%2Fhistory%2F

Their prices are the highest in each category in my database so how many would they sell? Let me restate that.. their prices are the 3 highest.. period!

To compete head-on they would need to re-design and re-tool for a whole slew of models to fill that entire market-space or maybe try to use their Japanese models.

Even then...if they don't get the prices down and make the trade-offs all the others have done... they still won't sell because of cost!

So they probably look at everything I've said and conclude..... it's too small a market... Ariens are entrenched... Honda have the market that we could rationally hope to gain (whatever that actually is(?)) ..we've got bigger fish to fry. We don't want to mess up our brand and do the China thing.

Of course there's just one flaw with this argument (maybe several!!)... why bother to even stay in Canada? If they sell one machine per 100 Toro's ... just close down and concentrate on the markets you care about... not worth the overheads.

They presumably have just enough critical mass in Canada to make it worthwhile and enough Brand-loyalty to exist at all. Without sales data this is pure speculation.

In the USA they would be new kids on the block with a huge uphill struggle. Being "new" or "different" can work for you or against you depending on your marketing skills. Starting off with super high prices won't help. If you come in with the lowest prices... that can help.

If I was on the board of directors or CEO I'd want to hear a good convincing business plan before pushing the "Go button" in the USA and I would keep my resume polished as plan B

Did you look at the history of Yamaha in the link above?
Did you spot the Toros? For all we know.. if you trace through all the holding companies... perhaps (just perhaps) Yamaha are already here.... they are just called Toro. Some of the Japanese conglomerates are huge and diverse... similarly in China I think. If you own stock in Toro and in Yamaha ...then, in some sense of the word... you are Toro and you are Yamaha simultaneously.
Not at the brand level but at the ownership level.

Here is the google translation of Yamaha history:https://translate.google.com/transla...r%2Fhistory%2F
It shows a nebulous link to Toro

$0.02

Last edited by unknown1; 10-15-2017 at 12:55 AM. Reason: Lots of edits there I'm afraid
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post #10 of 26 Old 10-14-2017, 10:26 PM
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Similarly... I look at Honda in my database and ask.... how on Earth are they pulling this off?

The answer has to be related to some column I have not found yet or some non-measurable quality such as brand loyalty and very clever marketing
Obviously some decent level of quality and support is essential too... but you can't quantify quality unless you have independent test labs and criteria for measurement and an explanation why that measurement is important.

You need sufficient quality to get people motivated with good support but just how much you need in order to win an audience is hard to define. It needs to be at least as good as Ariens I suppose... but do you need to be better? If so, how much better? A lot comes down to perception. I don't know how to put a number next to these things...yet.

One very real possibility is the fact that many people have had good experiences with Honda cars and there is just an assumption that the name Honda is good enough. No rationale specific to snowblowers whatsoever in that case.

Also notice which companies are paying the salary for a rep to sit here on this site and manage the spin by offering support and communication and giving away goodie-bags?
Precisely ONE company ... Honda! There may be lurkers out there.. who knows? But that's how you can piggy back off car loyalty and project it into snowblowers whether there is a true rationale or there isn't. If Samsung or Apple entered the market they might be able to succeed for similar reasons...how about a Google Snowblower? Would anybody buy an Equifax Snowblower?
Incidentally, how many of the Honda goodie bag recipients stop and think... wait a minute... who is actually paying for these goodie bags in the first place? The answer is.. THEY ARE!
Now THAT is one cheap and easy way to manage brand-loyalty and perception. It sounds so silly but it can be very effective for some consumers but not for others.
I wish I could measure how and why it is apparently working. There's no column on my database that does it. Maybe I just missed it.

So how does a company make profit?
Marketing 101.... convince people to pay as much as you can.. make them feel happy to pay it...try to convince them they are making a good choice and perhaps play to their ego by telling them they have made a "smart" choice..flatter them on being a well-informed consumer.. better than most...possibly hand out goodie bags...answer questions if they ask.. fix it if it breaks..answer the phone if they call and smile all the way to the bank if you got them to pay enough up-front and you sell lots of them.

I used to wonder.. why don't Ariens get smart and do likewise with a presence here on the forum? I think I finally understand. Look at the database and look for shades of green. They don't need to. According to their own website they are "The #1 selling brand of two-stage snow blowers in the world. " ...maybe they are happy enough to coexist... lots of ways to run a business. Ariens are succeeding just fine the way they are doing things as far as I can tell... so why change?

I've seen several people ask what is the value proposition that would make me buy a Honda. They may not use that exact language but the thought process is the same. I've yet to see any explanation that I can understand. Maybe I just don't have the data yet. My spreadsheet cannot detect it whatever it is... at least... not yet. If someone can define it and quantify it, I'll add a column.
$0.02

Last edited by unknown1; 10-15-2017 at 02:21 AM. Reason: Sorry for the edits
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