Garmin’s Andrew Silver on the acquisition of Tacx and bringing distribution and marketing in-house

Following the acquisition of Tacx last year, Garmin brought distribution and marketing in-house as of 1st August. James Groves catches up with Andrew Silver, Garmin’s European product manager for fitness and cycling

Garmin acquired Tacx back in April 2019. What attracted you to Tacx, and how did that agreement come to pass?
Garmin’s heritage is centred in GPS, which influenced the entry to many of our markets, including cycling. The first products we launched in the cycling space were GPS computers, with the earliest iterations of the Edge range.

As we established ourselves in the market, we saw that cyclists were looking for even more insights into their riding and more technology to support their rides. That’s when the Varia and Vector ranges were introduced, to offer cyclists a comprehensive system of products that worked together to give the rider unique performance insight, bike-specific navigation, and an improved sense of safety while riding. It’s this journey and mindset that led us to Tacx. At Garmin, we’re always listening to our athletes and what they want, as well as market trends to see where we should be building products.

One thing we started to see was more Garmin users logging indoor rides with Edge and Vector products. We also saw indoor cycling begin to shift from a winter-only activity to a year-round sport in its own right. More and more riders will train indoors because it can be more efficient, targeted and convenient. We saw an opportunity to bring our expertise in outdoor riding and training to the indoor space to give cyclists an integrated and seamless year-round training experience. When you consider what this year has brought in terms of the emphasis on indoor, clearly this approach was the right one.

At Garmin, engineering is at the heart of what we do, which means we’ll almost always develop products ourselves rather than acquire or outsource. Tacx is a rare exception to this because it so perfectly mirrored Garmin’s values and how we would approach the indoor market.

Tacx’s product innovation is hugely advanced and delivers everything that we’d want if we created a Garmin bespoke product, being a highly realistic, quiet and accurate indoor ride experience. Tacx shares a lot of the cultural values at the heart of Garmin: it’s a company driven by innovation and product development. At both Garmin and Tacx’s cores, there is a passionate engineering culture at heart, where developing the best products is the key goal.

The product quality and existing brand was the key driver, but it can’t be ignored that we were entering the indoor trainer space later than some of our competitors. If there wasn’t a player like Tacx on the market that mirrored the Garmin brand so well, we would have developed our own line. But when there was an already highly functional and market-leading opportunity available, it made sense to take it.

Garmin has now taken steps to centralise Tacx’s distribution and marketing. Why have you adopted this strategy, and to what extent will this differ from ZyroFisher’s work with the brand?
The acquisition was quite new territory for us; we usually choose to engineer in-house rather than through acquiring an existing company. But as Tacx is such a valuable, strong brand, that mirrors Garmin’s values, it made sense to bring it into the Garmin family.

By bringing Tacx under the Garmin umbrella, it’s important that Tacx keeps its identity while also feeling like a full Garmin offering. Tacx has a really strong brand, but so does Garmin, and integrating these two from development to marketing is something that needs to be handled centrally to ensure a consistent brand feeling for customers.

Throughout the acquisition, ZyroFisher has been a great partner in helping us reach this goal in the UK and Ireland. But August was always the clear goal for Tacx to be managed fully by Garmin, and we’re incredibly excited to continue to take Tacx to new heights as part of Garmin. It’s unlikely that you’ll see any significant immediate changes, but Tacx will become a clear Garmin brand in all senses, while staying true to its existing brand identity.

To what extent has the handover process been complicated by COVID?
All businesses have needed to be dynamic in the face of COVID, but the plan to integrate Tacx into Garmin has always been clear and something we’ve strived for as a priority. August was always a clearly set timeline for us, and while there may have been new challenges (changing working practices for example), we have always focused on achieving that goal.

While we can’t comment on Tacx sales specifically, the whole cycling industry has seen a strong uptick in the wake of COVID, and Tacx has been no exception here. It’s promising to see the number of people getting on their bikes and the number of people riding indoors for the first time. This is a trend we expect to continue as indoor cycling continues to build its identity as a sport in its own right.

What’s next for Tacx?
We acquired Tacx because it mirrored Garmin’s drive for engineering excellence. Both brands have the goal of providing a seamless, enjoyable and safe year-round riding experience. So, while there’s nothing to announce right now, rest assured that the new Tacx products coming in the future will have some amazing, industry-leading technology and features.

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