Ducati 2015 World Premiere

Perhaps this post is not going to speak to most readers. After all, we are all about the motorcycle itself, the riding experience, the specific characteristics of the motorcycle and here I propose to talk about something different, although still about motorcycles.  I’m an economist by training and besides my passion for riding I also have a passion for discovering and understanding what’s behind a success story.  I like to observe and study market trends and make projections from these analyses.  I like to study marketing strategies, dissect them to see how new ideas emerge, how they became mainstream. You have probably already observed a tendency I have to write a few words beyond the motorcycle itself and talk about the segment where the motorcycle resides, for example.

The point of this post is to go over Ducati’s 2015 World Premiere at the EICMA in Milano and discuss what I considered a lesson in marketing by Ducati’s CEO, Claudio Domenicali. It may not speak to you, or you don’t care about the Ducati brand. That’s all fine.  But maybe you are interested in knowing more about marketing strategies, corporate identify, product development? Claudio made it very simple and personal, touched all the critical points of the Ducati brand and family of products, good or bad, including the recent negotiations with the workers union in the Borgo Panigale plant.

You can see and hear the entire event for yourselves and reach your own conclusions. Below is the video from when the event was streamed life the day before EICMA opened to the public.  By the way, Claudio announced future world premieres will be broadcast on similar fashion as a way to better connect with the Ducati community.

Below are some highlights.

On all product presentations Claudio talked about the people at Ducati. He was talking directly to them, as well as to the Ducatisti around the world.

Some updates: Ducati now employs in Borgo Panigale and its subsidiaries in Brazil and Thailand, 1400 people.  Ducati started assembling motorcycles in 1946, Claudio announced that in 2014 Ducati assembled its 1,000,000th motorcycle. And in 2014 they will have delivered the highest number of motorcycles in a year, with more than 45,000 motorcycles projected to be distributed worldwide this year. He portrayed the company as a vibrant unit, a company in expansion.

He also celebrated the brand’s care about design, and its win of the Compasso D’Oro prize, the most prestigious prize about design, which was given to the 1199 Panigale in 2014, the first motorcycle to ever win that prize.

He also talked about the challenges in negotiating with the union, but celebrated the agreement recently reached and pointed to their presence in the audience. He also talked about the difficult years in Moto GP, where Ducati has been visibly struggling. But he talked about the new Ducati Corse General Manager, Luigi Dall’Igna, and how much progress has been achieved since he joined Ducati. He also brought to the stage the two riders Andrea Iannonne and Andrea Dovizioso and celebrated Dovizioso’s pole position at Montegi.

Before introducing the new products Claudio reminded the audience about the three values of the Ducati brand:

  • Style
  • Sophistication, and
  • Performance

He also introduced the new brand within  Ducati, the Scrambler Ducati brand. A new brand, with its own logo, its own product line, and its own values.  It will be more than a motorcycle, as they will sell with it all sorts of riding apparel.  Ducati has been selling branded riding apparel for many years, but with the new Scrambler Ducati brand it has become more clear how their business model involves much more than the motorcycle itself. Here are the values for the Scrambler Ducati:

  • Free-spirit
  • Fun, and
  • Self-Expression

Claudio explained this new brand as an opportunity to expand the Ducati motorcycles to a different kind of rider.  Or even to non-riders, bringing the idea of riding to people who are not the traditional Ducati riders or even people who have never ridden before.

2015 crambler Icon - photo courtesy Ducati and Asphalt and Rubber

2015 crambler Icon – photo courtesy Ducati

The vice president of marketing  introduced the Scrambler motorcycle by telling its history, from 1962, when the Scrambler was born as a request from an American motorcycle distributor, to 1975 when it stopped being made.  He described the values of the 60’s and 70’s, and how these values are extremely contemporary today.  He sold the product itself and its vast line of accessories, more products, which will allow this motorcycle to be customized from four starting points (the Icon, Urban Enduro, Full Throttle, and Classic models).  And beyond that he presented the line of clothing, riding apparel, including helmets that will be sold with the new brand.  This is a large investment, and I have a feeling it will pay off. They mentioned this is a starting point for something that will have a long life within Ducati.  They are certainly energized by this product.

One interesting comment to make about the Scrambler is that people in motorcycle forums have discussed how small the Scrambler seems to be or really is (some people have already seen it life).  When the four motorcycles were brought to the stage during the premiere, they were ridden by four guys that have been directly involved in the bike’s development (accessories development manager, project manager, engineer and designer), and they all seem to be at least 6ft tall.

Going back to the Ducati brand, back to style, sophistication and performance, one of the highlights for 2015 is the Diavel Titanium, which will be limited to 500 production units, similar to the Panigale Leggera.  It will probably be a very expensive machine, with high end materials (Titanium , of course, carbon fiber, and others) and several components and paint customized especially for this bike, including a set of forged wheels. If you like exclusivity, that’s the way to go.

2015 Limited Production Diavel Titanium - Only 500 units will be commercialized

2015 Limited Production Diavel Titanium – Only 500 units will be commercialized

Another highlight is the 1299 Panigale, coming in three versions: The Panigale 1299 , the Panigale S and the Panigale R, all of course, with the superquadro engine.  The 1299 models have a 100cc increase in displacement from the previous model and are now reaching more 205hp at 10,500rpm. This is quite the machine, with a whole host of eletronic riding aids, including Öhlins suspension with electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with semi-active mode.

2015 1299 Panigale

2015 1299 Panigale

The Panigale R is a different animal. This is actually a 1198, although still at 205hp.  The idea baout this bike is to be within the Superbike’s EVO rules which has pushed for the return of the homologation special, the very small production line of very specialized motorcycles at very high prices. The Panigale R is Ducati’s homologation motorcycle.

2015 Panigale R - an 1198cc special production for Superbike homologation purposes

2015 Panigale R – an 1198cc special production Panigale for Superbike homologation purposes

The final product presented was the 2015 Multistrada.  Claudio presented the new Multistrada under Ducati’s belief in accurate design and technological innovation. Despite the strong similarity with the 2010-12 and the 2013-14 models, the 2015 is a completely new motorcycle. And it’s key difference starts with a small part, the camshaft phaser, which is at the heart of the new motor, the Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) motor. Ducati’s DVT is a first on a motorcycle to have variable timing on both the intake and exhaust valves.

2015 1200 Multistrada S with Testastretta DVT Motor

2015 1200 Multistrada S with Testastretta DVT Motor

There are many other updates to this new Multistrada.  We already presented the new motor in detail, as well as some of the anticipated changes to this new model. We will discuss the new specs in more detail on an upcoming post. The list is rather long, this bike deserves a post on its own.

Overall, we wanted to give you a summary on Ducati’s marketing through its way of communicating with its customers on this world premiere.  It was well delivered and at high standards of professionalism, but it always felt very personal, like he was talking directly to each one of us. Nothing like having the CEO of the company be the guy leading the conversation, delivering the products, and as a result demonstrating his engagement with the company’s business and its products, the customers, and his team of staff. The overall impression is that of commitment to the company’s values, renewed efforts on technological improvements, and continued growth.

Introduction of the Scrambler to the team at the Ducati plant in Borgo Panigale.

Ducati and Scrabler Ducati logos red and yellow side by side.

The branching off of Ducati via the Scrambler Ducati is an ambitious project, and the results no doubt will come. There will be a lot of yellow on your local Ducati dealer coming up this spring with a new family of products that will take the Ducati brand, in its Scrambler guise, to people who have not had a Ducati before, and people to whom the Scrambler will be their first bike.

Well done Ducati, well done Claudio Domenicali.  That was a great format to deliver new products and it highlights a company who is proud of its line of products and is committed to a growing set of loyal customers they know well, the Ducatisti.  And now be ready, they will also Scramble you.

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7 Responses to Ducati 2015 World Premiere

  1. Fantastic write up, Cesar! I haven’t watched the video yet, but after reading your summary, it’s on my to-view list. It still amazes me the (low) number of bikes Ducati sells each year, while simultaneously maintaining a complex array of models. I suspect my 2011 MTS 1200s won’t be the only Duc in my stable in the future (Scrambler, anyone?).

  2. Dario says:

    Hi Cesar,
    thanks for your post, I really liked it. It also makes me feel proud as an Italian. You know, here in Italy there is a bad habit, too many people complaining too much about our country, thinking that things are aways better somewhere else. I travel regularly out of Italy and I can see that this is not the case, since Italy has a lot of quality to offer in so many domains.
    The Ducati example is just another success story , even if recently they became part of Audi, they still keep the heart and soul of the brand in the main factory in Italy.
    I was at Eicma show last week, very nice show this year, many nice new bykes to see, however it was often hard to focus on the bykes because of the beautiful women sitting on them, if you like I can send you some pictures to see (I don’t have your email adress).

    Ciao

    • “… it was often hard to focus on the bykes because of the beautiful women sitting on them…”

      You know, I am just like the next guy who enjoys seeing a beautiful woman sitting on a motorcycle, and I don’t begrudge you your comment. That said, I wonder when the manufacturers will realize they’re leaving money on the table when they treat half the world’s population as nothing more than eye candy. Women ride. More women should ride. Manufacturers — and our motorcycling community — should do more to make women feel welcome, and not be treated as objects (umbrella girls, anyone?).

      100 years from now, if the human species is still kicking, I really hope they’ll look back on their history (us), shaking their heads in bemusement that we treated people differently based on gender, orientation, size, age, color, etc. Frankly, I hope it doesn’t take 100 years.

      • cesardagord says:

        Thanks Rick. It is worth watching the video. Claudio is a good communicator, not in the sense of being impeccable, but for making the effort to communicate, he really does it well. It should be an example to other CEOs who only speak to stockholders. There is a sense of community, that people who work at Ducati and people who own Ducati motorcycles are Ducatisti alike. And he passes a clear sense of pride and belief on their product.

      • cesardagord says:

        About that Rick (your post about not many women riding), I believe the Scrambler Ducati has actually targeted women. On the promotional video it clearly shows that. At the same time, we guys in general are at fault with this as much as motorcycle industry is, if not more – after all they want to sell as many bikes as they can. Have you heard the “that’s a chick’s car” comment (examples first series of the New Beetle, Mini, Golf Cabriolet)? It happens on motorcycles as well. People call the F700GS the girl’s version of the F800GS, for example. Manufacturers know this may create a problem selling to guys a motorcycle that the public may view as a chick’s bike. Ducati and the Scrambler have a step forward on the right direction, I think.

    • cesardagord says:

      Grazie Dario,
      I confess I’m a bit biased in liking Ducati for being an Italian citizen. But I could also like Moto Guzzi or Aprilia or several others. But I feel more at home with Ducati. I’ve been at their plant, and a friend of a friend of mine works at the plant in Borgo Panigale. When I was visiting the plant I mentioned I wanted to meet him (I gave his name to the guides). They all knew who he was and they made sure I was going to meet him. He was not at his station when the tour went by it so when I was at the front gate they gave me his direct number and I called him from the gate booth and in 2 minutes he was out there, happy to meet me (my friend was his elementary school classmate). I will be back in Borgo Panigale for another visit. Hilaria and Maria were great tour guides, by the way, and it was a bit distracting following them on the tour… not unlike your experience at EICMA…
      Yes, Claudio and the team keep the heart and soul of the brand despite being part of Audi now! This was obvious at the premiere. And I understand how people like to criticize anything and everything (especially from our on home turf). I suppose it is part of human nature.
      Cesar

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