Maserati is moving to redefine itself, especially in America

Maserati is moving to redefine itself, especially in America

The lawn of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance regularly features Maserati cars that showcase some of the finest Italian designs in sports car history. For the brand’s modern designs, change has been slow in recent years, as traditional rivals like Lamborghini, Bugatti and Ferrari, and up-and-comers including Rimac, get more than their fair share of attention from car enthusiasts. . ..

Where does that leave Maserati? The Modena, Italy-based company was recently brought together in the PSA Group-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merger and is one of the luxury brands offered by the new Stellantis organization.

His castle is getting old, but a bright star emerged last year in the form of the supercar MC20. The coupe’s striking lines and new-age aesthetic made enthusiasts sit up and take notice. This year at Pebble, the brand showed off a spyder-like car – the MC20 Cielo – in the striking Aqua Marina three-step color.

The new Gracale SUV is another step towards modern customer attitudes. It combines a spacious interior that is generally considered well-appointed with performance that lives up to expectations.

Others in the range are the Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans, the GranTurismo coupe and the Levante subcompact SUV. The Ghibli has recently been upgraded and a new GranTurismo is on the way.

Maserati CEO Davide Grasso (left) with Bill Peffer (right) and the MC20 Cielo on the lawn of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

In addition to steady age, Maserati had other problems on its hands. Businessmen wanted to be more profitable. Reliability has historically been an issue. The service was lagging behind competitors who offered more customer service.

“Our strategy in the United States is the same as we have around the world,” said David Grasso, CEO of Maserati. news week during a roundtable at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. How sales in the United States occur under vendor contracts is different from most parts of the world. So Grasso said Bill Peffer, head of Maserati Americas, and his team needed to dig deeper as part of a strategy to strengthen the brand.

“We needed to refocus on the customer, not the focus [sales] partners. We needed to focus our strategy on the customer and our customer is the modern luxury customer. That’s the bottom line. That is the focus,” he said. “Fundamentally, we make the cars we love so the customer loves them too. So the focus shifts from quantity to delivering customer value.”

Maserati’s revitalization has been ongoing for several years and is built around a four-pillar plan that includes product, market, brand and team changes. For the United States, that meant Peffer rebuilding the Maserati Americas team around “the core competencies that we had lost,” Grasso said.

The CEO also says that the brand needs to reflect the strength of the reputation that Maserati has built over the years, as well as a modern identity. Grasso describes them as “innovation, functionality, design, Italian and luxury”. He was tasked with interpreting these pillars for the third millennium. “It’s not white marble and violins anymore … Italy is also a lot of modern things,” he was quick to say.

Maserati MC20 Cielo
The Maserati MC20 was introduced in spyder form before the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Maserati market also needed to be “refined” and “rebalanced because the focus should be on the customer”, resulting in a “no push but pull” sales model.

“When we look at our metrics, it’s clear that the profit is in the middle and we need a net profit,” Peffer said of the 2021 aspect of Maserati’s plan during the round table. “If we don’t have a profitable network, they won’t invest in the brand anymore. So part of that change was not just the product base, but also the right mindset of the dealers who sell our cars. They all have multiple brands. . To get them to invest, they have to show profitability. It’s good business people. Otherwise, they will take their resources elsewhere.

In a separate interview at the Pebble Beach event Peffer said news week, “Last year it was about fixing the fleet and fixing the business model. One of the things we did was to simplify the distribution channel. We had a lot of cars that the dealers were buying from us when they came to the port here. We couldn’t get the same mix and we would only buy if they had customers.

“Now dealers are ordering all of their vehicles. To help them get the right mix, we re-evaluated and re-narrated our series and started to raise the performance factor of the brand. We then break down our incentives as a percentage of MSRP [manufacturers suggested retail price] and said ‘Where are we relative to other places?’ So we cut back and the transaction prices went up… the profit was returned for us and our dealer organization.

Maserati Grecale GT Bronzo Opaque
Maserati Grecale GT shown in Bronzo Opaque color scheme.

“So we went back to our dealers and said, ‘Okay, as an introduction to something like this. [Peffer gestured toward the MC20 Cielo] What are you doing to improve the customer experience?’ We came out with our new air ID program and with the benefit of it they were more willing to make the investment.

The change seems to be paying off. Peffer says that Maserati is one of only three brands to increase brand loyalty year after year this year. In the past, Peffer says Maserati customers were more price-conscious, often buying one Maserati model and then moving on. Peffer wants to know why. “You’re going to repeat the purchase? No why? We’re really fixated on why. At what point in the ownership cycle… do we break?”

Peffer’s team found that the answer was price. “Launching new products, going where the customers are, building a pull model is better for us,” he said.

“The MC20 was a lightning rod in terms of reinventing what this brand stands for. It was unexpected. It’s a return to the supercar segment for the first time in 20 years and we had a lot of buzz when we introduced it.

“We’re building a buying, enthusiast base that knew it was coming out, so it was very easy to sell the Model Year 23 and that’s what we want. We want people that we can come back to, that we can grow into a brand, that we can continue to sell and bring new products to get them to buy again.

Maserati Gran Turismo
The new Maserati GranTurismo shown before its official launch.

“We didn’t always have that ability. The good news with the merger with Stellantis is that they committed resources and unlocked technology that allowed us to be independent and offer things that a small independent luxury company couldn’t,” he said.

In the United States, Maseratis are sold alongside Alfa Romeos, often at dealerships that also handle other luxury car brands. Maserati has a desire not to look like an adult Alfa Romeo. “That’s where you have to develop and develop its DNA so that it’s not just another cheap car,” said Peffer. “Otherwise, I think a lot of people go for the familiarity and attraction of a Maserati, but they’ll walk away with something else because of the price. You have to create a separation.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and global manufacturing challenges related to various aspects of this pandemic, as well as the war in Ukraine and inflation, Maserati remains on track with its plan.