By Neil Pascale
Due in part to its enthusiast following, Ducati North America is reporting significant market share gains after the first quarter.
The Italian manufacturer reported a 28 percent rise in its U.S. market share in a retail environment where the industry as a whole saw on-road motorcycle retail sales fall more than
25 percent compared to the previous year.
“When we did a sweep at the end of April, we were astonished to see some of our share,” said Michael Lock, Ducati North America’s CEO.
Ducati’s market share for its U.S. retail sectors, which exclude off road and cruisers, is at 5.8 percent, up from 4.5 percent from the year-end 2008 numbers.
Lock acknowledges some of that rapid rise in market share is due to the fact that some of the industry’s largest sport bike players struggled in the first quarter. But he also notes the smaller European OEMs that have traditionally had a loyal brand following largely did not perform as poorly as some of the larger OEMs.
“It’s more difficult for one of our customers, or maybe one of BMW’s customers, to look into the mirror and decide not to get involved this year,” Lock said of the new bike buyer. “It’s part of their lifestyle so they’ve got to do it whereas” that may not be the case for the metric motorcycle buyer.
Ducati’s market-share gains were seen across different areas of the United States, including in California, the Italian brand’s largest U.S. market. Through April, Ducati’s market share there nearly hit 10 percent, a sizeable increase from the 6.9 percent it had at the end of 2008. Oregon (8.1 percent) and New Jersey (7 percent) were other notable market-share state gains along with Arizona (9 percent). The latter, Lock noted, is partly due to improved dealer representation with the brand now having two dealers in Phoenix.
Market-share gains also were seen in several major metro areas, including in Boston, which is up nearly 5 percentage points to 16 percent, and New York City (23 percent).
Hoping to continue its market-share gains into the crucial second quarter, Ducati North America held a first-of-its-kind dealership event in May. In anticipation of the U.S. launch of its new sport bike, the Streetfighter, Ducati hosted dealership staff from half of its dealer network to not only learn about the new bike, but test it out on a Dallas-area race track.
Lock says rather than inviting dealer principals or general managers, Ducati asked sales managers or sales staff — those people who were going to have direct contact with the customer — to attend the two-day event. Dealership personnel were split into groups of 8-10 people and were provided different sessions that dealt with the Streetfigher’s service, marketing, apparel and accessories.
Lock said the event was aimed at taking a “completely different point of view” than regular product training, where the focus is on memorizing a few key product specifications. Instead, Lock said Ducati concentrated on “real world” objectives, like how to handle potential customer objections, answering how modifications to the bike would affect its performance and how it would handle on the street and on the track.
“I had videotaped a lot of the guys from the factory in Italy who were actually on the project team with the bike to talk about what their motivations were, why they made this bike, what they dreamed it was going to be and some of the things that happened in testing,” Lock said.
The event received such good feedback that Lock said Ducati is probably going to continue this type of training in the future when a new model or a significantly different model is launched in the United States.
Copyright 2009 Powersports Business