My name is Shachar Oz, I am from Israel and I am currently enrolled in the BBS Global MBA Supercars, Superbikes and Motorsports. A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to receive a tailor-made tour into the Ferrari factory in Maranello, as part of our MBA program at the Bologna Business School. We had the honor to speak with some of the leaders that stand behind the Ferrari production, like Rossella Borellini, Head of Marketing Research and Nicola Boari, Chief Brand Diversification Officer.
In the past decade I worked in various roles in innovative product development and R&D teams as: game designer, developer, UX researcher, marketing and product owner. I worked for a startup that was later acquired by Intel Corporation, so I had the opportunity to work with various organization types. After work hours I am running a design agency for educational innovation with my wife (who is a therapist and experienced teacher). Together we design solutions for schools, train teachers, kids and professionals in creative ways. I am also an invited speaker and event organizer (a committee member of the Bologna Startup group). My past experience has equipped me with a different type of lenses, so I often see things different than others. Here are some of the things I saw and learned from Ferrari.
Italy is the land of tradition and culture. If you want to understand something related to Italy, you should first investigate its roots. Enzo Ferrari, the legendary founder of one of the most powerful and well-known brands today, was passionate about cars in all his heart. He grew into a family with that passion as well, and he was a racer and mechanic himself.
He built the race tracks of the entire factory around his house. Each and every car produced was tested there, as well as racing drivers were practicing there. This explains how much importance he placed on the sound feature of his cars, as well as the motivation and competition of his racing drivers.
To start our Maranello experience in the right way, Nicola Boari, Chief Brand Diversification Officer, invited us for a traditional Italian lunch at the famous Ristorante Montana. This family owned place has a long history with hosting Ferrari drivers and clients. It is especially famous for its huge collection of table napkins signed by celebrities from the racing world.
Enzo Ferrari’s characteristics – dedication, passion, sense for details, stand deadlines, strive to perfection – are also looked for in future entrepreneurs and giant hi-tech companies. Seeing the factory workers, I can tell you that Ferrari is no different.
Passion to the racing culture plays a key role in the sales strategy. During the tour, we had the unique opportunity to visit the hangar of “FXX”, a program that offers to appreciated customers the chance to buy a real Formula One model. Since these cars can’t drive on roads, Ferrari organizes 8 events per year where these cars are brought to a location around the world, and during a long weekend the owner could immerse himself in a true F1 experience.
I have imagined the Maranello factory to be old-fashioned and more like an artisanal laboratory. I was surprised to discover robotic controlled systems for car painting, and some part of engine assembly, just to give a few examples. Workers also assist with 3D tracking to scan car for defects. But even with all this tech, the car itself is still nearly 100% hand-made in Italy.
Listening to Ferrari’s Customer Research Manager in the past 20 years, Rossella Borellini, was incredibly interesting to my curious ears. “Our customers have a different type of lifestyle. They have free time, they are calmed, they own more luxury items and they make comparisons”, said Borellini. “They are always happy to receive our phone call and they set the time to answer a 200 questions survey about their experience with the latest Ferrari car they purchased some months ago”.
This deep qualitative client research is what allowed Ferrari to discover some of its main differentiators from its direct competitors: McLaren, Porsche 911 GT, Mercedes and Lamborghini. The one that I liked in particular is the importance of a golf bag. These cars sometimes have baggage room in the size of a motorcycle helmet, but designers made sure that almost any Ferrari Gran-Turismo car can fit at least a golf bag. Why? Because that’s what customers are looking for.
“Everybody owns a Porsche 911. Not many have a red Ferrari. The exclusivity changes everything in the business game”, said Rossella Borellini, quoting Ferrari customers.
“Our customers trust us to design cars they can’t even imagine”, told us Nicola Boari, previously the Head of Product Marketing and today the Chief Brand Diversification Officer. “We design dreams. Our customers expect to be surprised”. This type of approach closely resembles the one of Steve Jobs, which uses the customer knowledge to design unexpected products.
We are entering a challenging time to the business of supercars. These cars are built for performance, especially Ferrari, with it’s 20 years in a row of best engine award. The rise of regulations around electric cars and the arrival of autonomous vehicles, is not going to be easy.
Ferrari showed that they already put in practice some of the ideas that allow them to confront these challenges. Driving Academy for people who wish to feel the adrenaline of a race driver; Collaborations with other luxury brands, like Berluti and Loro Piana, to provide exclusive experience to the customer; a program for buying a previous F1 race car or renting a F12 for a long road trip; and its not all. After meeting the leaders of Ferrari, I believe this company will actually prevail these challenges successfully and manage to make this jump into the uncertain future.
Shachar Oz – Israel
Global MBA Supercars, Superbikes and Motorsports – Class of 2018/19