Dec. 3, 2007 – Ducati shifts its attention

By Neil Pascale
With retail sales growth continuing in its North American market, Ducati is shifting more attention to its customer ownership experience in the new year.
That’s not to say the Italian manufacturer’s new products won’t continue to play a role in its growing North American market. In fact, Ducati North America (DNA) CEO Michael Lock called the new Monster 696, recently unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy, “possibly the most significant bike that we’ve had in 10 years.”
That says a lot, considering the company’s 1098 and Hypermotard releases in its 2007 model lineup led to Ducati’s dealers growing their new unit sales by 20 percent in the United States thus far this year, which is significant considering the industry’s on-highway sales were down more than 4.5 percent through September.
“We’re focusing on ownership experience — what happens to you once you’ve bought the bike,” Lock said, noting this figures to be a major commitment for the next two years.
The ownership experience effort won’t be limited to after the sale, however. That will certainly play a role as DNA plans to commit much of its resources toward making a big splash at three major racing championships that will be held in the United States in 2008.
But DNA also will pay close attention to the retail experience as well.
“We’ve been very successful at publicizing what we’re doing, how we’re changing and what exciting things we’re doing,” Lock said of Ducati’s recent product introductions.
“It’s not about selling bikes,” he said of DNA’s internal focus in 2008. “It’s about dealing with the details of what actually happens with people who buy our bikes. How do they get dealt with? What’s happening in service? What’s happening in accessories and apparel? What’s happening in promotions and events?”
DNA has lifted the prominence of such shopping standards by tying a percentage of dealer bonuses to retail performance measures. It also will continue a program it started at the 2006 dealer meeting that allows dealerships to take advantage of a relationship DNA has with a retail design consultant company.
That company has worked with Ducati
dealerships to improve their retail environments, including most recently at Erico Motorsports
in Denver.
Lock calls the effort at improving retail shopping environments different from other OEMs in that Ducati does not have a one-plan-fits-all mentality.
“We have to marry together the personality of the dealership with the personality of Ducati, so no two dealerships will look the same,” he said.
But on the racing side, having a mirror image wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Lock and Co. are hoping to transfer what they do annually at the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca to Indianapolis, the site of the second U.S. Grand Prix event for 2008. That event happens to be scheduled for a part of the country, the Midwest, that DNA has identified as its No. 1 target to improve its retail sales performance.
“Having two grand prixs in the U.S. next year,” he said, “that’s a big deal for Ducati North America.”

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