‘Because I buy so many new Ferraris, at some point you run out of ideas. When I came to the idea of doing a spec to pay tribute to the 250 Lusso Competizione, then it made it a lot easier’ says Ferrari collector and entrepreneur David Lee (@ferraricollector_davidlee) in an interview while showing his Ferrari F12 TDF (standing for Tour De France which reference the so-called old cars race). Collaborating with Ferrari’s internal design centre he created a unique tribute to the historical 250 Lusso Competizione. The whole process lasted 6 months during which Lee and Maranello’s team designed a modern replica of the classic car’s specification, from the yellow livery with race stripes to the interior blue bucket seats with red harnesses, the small Italian flags, and many other details.
Lee’s car even received a customised plate installed inside.
David Lee’s collection embodies the ethos of a generation of luxury customers for whom a standard high-end product is just not enough. This trend is not exclusive to the automotive sector and is captured by the ‘Global Power of Luxury Goods 2018’ report compiled by Deloitte.
For luxury performance cars owners, colours and options choice add personality and value to the car itself but also to the collection as a whole, especially in the era of social media diffusion. Instagram user @gregb.23’s popular page is another great example of how customisation becomes a real personal signature with his collection immediately recognisable by the green and orange livery.
A research in Business Administration from the Michigan Business University highlights how the value creation of luxury brands’ products and marketing are increasingly shifting from product and firm-centered strategies toward more a personalised experience, where the whole creative process constitutes real value in itself. Thus, firms are compelled to change their traditional marketing strategies as well, developing a different culture of access and communication as well as physical infrastructures to finalise this process. ‘Armed with new tools and dissatisfied with available choices, consumers want to interact with firms and thereby “co-create” value’ (Prahalad & Ramaswamy,2004). In the context of this interaction then, consumers and companies assume a similar role and the market itself becomes a place of value creation (Fig. 1).
As a consequence, firms are not just segmenting and targeting customers, instead develop a personalised experience for each one along with them. Demand for a product becomes contextual to the experience offered and the necessity for a firm to become highly responsive and adaptive to changing tastes through new functional and governance capabilities. This in turn, creates new competition and the need for investment and infrastructure development.
Another study by Apaka, Gögüs and Karakadilar presented at the 8th International Strategic Management Conference in Barcelona in 2012 showed how Brand Image and Flexibility, indicating customization varieties of the required brand model, are considered by far the most important factors in the choice of a luxury vehicle. Through an Analytic Hierarchy Process they evaluated consumer preferences and identified these two characteristics with a weight of respectively 32 and 35%. Way above others like Quality or Performance (Fig. 2).
Nowadays, it is being adopted even by automakers in ‘lower’ segments such as Mercedes or BMW that sell mostly mass-produced luxury models. In the low-volume luxury performance car industry, high-level personalisation has existed for a while. There are early adopters such as Ferrari that started almost from the very beginning during the 50s and Porsche with its Sondereunschprogramm, expanded in 1986, and renamed ‘Porsche Exclusive’.
But the competition is becoming fiercer. Between 2011 and 2015 in fact, almost all the major sports car manufacturers have expanded their infrastructure and services, Ferrari’s Tailor Made, Lamborghini’s Ad Personam, Aston Martin’s Q, McLaren’s MSO as well as the more luxury-oriented Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
As new trends emerge thanks to the latest technologies, each marque aims to offer the best experience possible to their clients who can easily end up spending from £50,000 to around £300,000 on options. Additional customisations now include special composite materials (usually stiffer and lighter textures obtained from carbon fibre processing), technical components like screens and integrated cameras, special design wheels, seats stitching, hued carbon fibre. On the experience side instead, between 2017 and 2018, along with refined boutiques where customers are welcomed, companies have started employing VR headsets to make the real-time customisation as immersive as possible or developing mobile’s app configurators.
This is important as the interaction across different digital platforms between customers and brands will become even more common according to Accenture at the Millennial 20/20 Summit in London, and Deloitte’s report. By 2025 millennials and generation Z will account for over 40% of the global luxury market and the focus on technology and connectivity will likely be the next important trend where the competition will develop for luxury performance cars as well.
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