Saturday, 5 March 2011

Red Square

Last night 38,000 people squeezed into Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore in Ducati's pre-season party and send-off for Ducati MotoGP riders, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Looks like fun, and I can imagine the love in the factory - when I was last there all people could talk of was raising the cash to bring Vale to Ducati.

But is it a case of be careful what you wish for? Friends in high places say Ducati have really raided the piggy bank to get Rossi and the Diavel onto the starting blocks, and both need to fly if Ducati are to make it through these treacherous times. Now I might not have an MBA, but to me that's one hell of a roll of the dice: if the Rossi/Burgess magic wand does it's usual trick, will people really credit Ducati? Or in two years time when Rossi heads to retirement/Ferrari/tax exile will it all be a spent wad?

The Diavel's a more interesting gamble - the rave reception talks of pinching Harley riders, but I think not: I know loads of Harley riders and they like the lifestyle/club aspect at least as much as the bike itself. that's a tough gig for Ducati dealers to compete with. HD riders also like the fact that maintenance involves an oil change and nothing else - the typical £600-£800 biannual Ducati 8-valve belt service is not going to go down well with this crowd.

Me, I'd have stuck with Stoner and maybe built on the Monster. I'd also go down the Harley/Ferrari route of making the dealer experience more club like and the slowly-slowly attempt of relieving the fan base of money via branded goods (have you seen the Fezza store opposite Hamley's? That's the real toy shop). I know the marginal cost of manufacturing makes endless iterations of one or two motorcycles look attractive, but ultimately (I think) it devalues what's being achieved. Reminds me of Guzzis recent decision to double the number of dealers in order to double the sales: guys, go look up marginal propensity to spend in the economic textbooks. Ah, too late - the Chinese are buying Guzzi. Sad but true..

Hopefully I'm wrong and the MBA's are right. But even if I'm right, Ducati fans know that the factory always works the real magic just as the rest of the world thinks it's going bust.

1 comment:

  1. My money is on the Rossi investment ( and I have doubts about that) rather than the.. em... er.. dreadful Diavel.