Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. In the automotive world, it’s an old axiom that still holds today.
For Ducati’s (VOW.DE) factory racing team, a win earlier this month at its home Italian MotoGP was a brief respite for what has been a tough season for them. But, tough season or not, Ducati’s name and heritage means it will sell bikes, even in the lean years.
Now Ducati isn’t exactly going to stand still and rev its engine in neutral if you will. No, it must keep moving, and growing, especially in the US. Ducati has 780 dealerships across 90 countries, but the U.S. is still the Italian brand’s number one market, with just under 9,000 bikes sold last year.
Earlier this spring I had the chance to attend the grand opening of the Ducati New York showroom in downtown Manhattan. The dealership wasn’t originally Ducati exclusive, but it is now, with bikes, clothing, and lifestyle accessories for sale, plus a world-class service center, and more. Ducati calls its new New York City outpost a “global beacon for the brand.”
I spoke to Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali about why the revamp was needed. “It’s very important to have proper representation of the brand in the most important and influential places,” he says. “We’re already here in New York, but not in the representation that the brand deserves.”
What he means is Ducati isn’t just an obscure Italian motorcycle brand known for exotic super bikes. Ducati now has a more diversified product portfolio offering a wider range of motorcycles.
“We have started to develop our brand in broader areas,” Domenicali notes, specifically with the Scrambler sub-brand of entry level bikes that allow new owners a vast array of customization.
And when you enter the Scrambler area of the dealership, it’s like you’ve entered a another store. You won’t see any Dainese race suits or matte black aero helmets. Here you’ll see denim motorcycle jackets, flannel shirts, and old-school helmets with leather interior trim. Scrambler is more about the laid back biker who’s going for a ride through the outer boroughs to a cool speakeasy in Long Island City. He or she isn’t taking this bike to the Mugello Circuit.
“It’s more relevant to make buying a Ducati not just being a motorcycle, but entering into a way of life, and a philosophy,” Domenicali says about the Scrambler retail location. “It’s a 360-degree experience … It’s a very important service for our brand.”
Domenicali definitely talks the talk of the marketer, but make no mistake, he’s a biker first. He originally started out at Ducati as a project leader on the engineering and R&D side before moving up through the ranks.
I brought up what the future holds for Ducati, since many media reports over the past few years have discussed what owner Volkswagen Group would do with it, since a motorcycle brand isn’t exactly core for an auto company. Plus, VW group just named a new CEO back in April, Herbert Diess.
Domenicali smiled and told me the new CEO is a passionate motorcyclist—and friend. Oh, and Diess used to run BMW’s motorcycle division. “I’m sure Ducati will benefit from that,” Domenicali concluded. It doesn’t sound like Ducati is going anywhere, anytime soon.