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Hi,
I'm just curious on your opinions on this. I was speaking to a friend (and fellow Maserati owner) of mine the other day, and he said that he's afraid that Maserati's massive advertising campaign may cheapen the brand. My argument to him was that Maserati has come a very long way now that Fiat turned the company around, but they're still trying to make Maserati more of a household name and produce a larger number of cars per year and broaden their scope (i.e. SUV), and the most potent way to achieve their goals in the shortest amount of time is by advertising the way that they're doing. I'm not so sure I would call Maserati's ad campaign "Massive" either. Anyway, what do you think, is Maserati cheapening itself like my friend said?
 

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I don't think they are cheapening the brand by doing some limited advertising. When compared to Chrysler (also Fiat owned) they barely advertise at all. IMHO they still have more name recognition from a 37 year old Joe Walsh song. Getting the name out doesn't cheapen the brand. Has anyone ever heard of Ferrari?

Having said that, there are ways to cheapen the brand and if annual production gets too high, that's one of them. I don't think the Ghibli cheapens it either. Having one car in the line that attracts new buyers to the line isn't a bad thing. Having people view the brand as a reliable car can only help. If you own a Ghibli, people may now have at least heard about it. If you own a QP or GT, people would understand the difference.
 

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Hi,
I'm just curious on your opinions on this. I was speaking to a friend (and fellow Maserati owner) of mine the other day, and he said that he's afraid that Maserati's massive advertising campaign may cheapen the brand..............Anyway, what do you think, is Maserati cheapening itself like my friend said?
A year ago and more, Luca di Montezemolo said Ferrari production was capped at 7,000 vehicles per year to preserve exclusivity. I believe they are over that currently. My old 1967 Ferrari 365GTC speciale carried ser #10581 , meaning that in the first twenty years of Ferrari production of road cars from the beginning, it was the 5,290th road Ferrari ever built. To an old Ferrari guy, they're flooding the market. And I believe that with Ferrari going public they'll soon be building 10,000+ cars a year.

Maserati has stated that they would like to build and sell 50,000 cars a year. Porsche builds in excess of 100,000/year. IOn order to have a viable, self-sustaining Company, Maserati simply must increase production and sales to cover the cost of research and developmednt of the exccellent cars they make.

Bottom line, I wouldn't worry.
 

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Selling 50K og even 75K cars per year wouldn't necessarily cheapen the brand much, if at all. What cars they actually develop, manufacture and sell is much more important. As such, what Maserati has done over the last 16-17 years (i.e. since the introduction of the 3200GT), seems to have been rather clever, and has resulted in a clear strategic pattern. The brand has surely much stronger value today (despite an annual production of some 35K cars last year) than it had in the late 1990s when Maserati was producing at most 2K cars per year. All in all, I think Maserati has already successfully (re-)positioned the marque has the luxury, high-performance Italian alternative, and the company has consistently been profitable over the last 9 nine years.

However, Maserati is still at quite some distance from regaining the position it had until the mid-1970s as the aristocrat in the triumvirate of Italian superbrands. At the time, the Bora, the Ghibli, the Khamsin, the Indy, and the Merak competed head-on-head with Ferrari's and Lamborghini's corresponding models. Today they do not.

It will be very interesting to see what lies ahead for Maserati given FCA's plan to list Ferrari, thereby putting Maserati firmly as the top marque in their brand hierarchy.
 

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Good points!

I've observed, recently, that the public's impression of the brand is indeed changing. It's considered far less exotic than pre-Ghibli years because people are beginning to see them quite often (relatively speaking) and they understand that they're affordable. In past years here in downtown Chicago, I would see another Maserati about once a month, maybe twice. Now I see a Ghibli every day or two. I've overheard people discuss the brand suggesting that they're no longer a supercar company but shifting their focus toward sales figures. That they're no longer a dream car but a reality car.

And they're not wrong with these observations. What they describe has in fact happened. Does that cheapen the brand? I dunno... "cheapen" is a tough word, but, technically, yes. When Maserati is no longer viewed as exotic, and when entrance into the club gets easier (i.e. cheaper), it loses its prestige to a degree. And those who want exclusivity are discovering that they now have quite a bit less of it. That has enraged many owners. We've seen a fair share of it on this forum. Many have even left the brand.

Thankfully, for anyone concerned about Maserati's future as a performance-oriented auto company, they appear to have big plans for powerful and sexy sports cars for upcoming years. However, concurrently, they will continue to put many more cars on the streets and if you could quantify the cheapening of a brand you'd likely have to say that the trend will continue in its current direction. Its exclusivity will continue to drop as seeing a Ghibli every two days becomes seeing two Ghiblis every day, and as more people realize that they, too, can afford a Maserati, a car they once only dreamed about with posters on their wall. I have mixed feelings about this.

As a Mas owner, I enjoyed the prestige. The fact that my car was special. I didn't mind hearing "wow!" at gas stations. Seeing people grab their cameras when the car passed by. Though it was the car they were interested in -- not me -- vicariously I felt as though I'd done something to "arrive" in the classic sense of the word. But the wows began to drop dramatically, the cameras stayed in people's pockets, the name palpably lost its allure and mystique. I think that qualifies for a cheapening of the brand, though, again, I don't love that term as it's too wide and undefined and a bit demeaning, but I think I get the point.
 

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I think you are right that increasing production volumes by going slightly down-market, as is the case with the Ghibli III, may "cheapen" the brand if nothing is done to counteract the effect.

One possible way of offsetting that effect would be that Maserati develops a top model along the lines of a new Bora or a successor to the MC12.
 

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I agree "cheapen" is a tough word to define and many times perception is the reality. And I think we will see it get a little worse before it gets better.

The new generation of Ghibli has some nice technologies like the AWD, Ferrari produced V6 twin turbo (especially S/SQ4 version), 8 speed transmission and that exotic Maserati look at a lower price point than the balance of the portfolio. Option it up and you can approach $100K out the door ... squarely nearing the price point of 1-2 year old QP / QP GTS / GT-S/MC.

I walked in fully intentioned to drive away with a 1 yr old GT-S blu oceano ... instead I decided to max out a new Ghibli SQ4 for the AWD feature, updated electronics and the illusion that it is a more practical car and I could drive in the winter. Not ... at least for me, but others do.

Where the Ghibli creates the cheapening IMO ...
* Mass produced versus the older hand made platforms, (but looks like all will move this way eventually).
* You can feel it is not as a solid as the GT-S, (and the new QP SQ4 seems to be lighter like the Ghibli).
* MY14 (and some MY15) generation quality is questionable and inconsistent. Especially the all the software updates.
* Heavy discounting to move stock, some cannibalization of existing Maserati range.
* Discounted / Depreciated "used" low mileage Ghibli's at $60K ... are those buyers remorse vehicles or problem children? That will fall into a lower price point entry for some.
* Large amount of inexperienced new dealers added to network so service is inconsistent dealer to dealer.
* Maserati not prepared to handle the large amount of Ghibli's sold and all the service campaigns to correct the MY 2014 which essentially used the consumer to lead the pilot.
* You will see more Ghibli's produced and consequently show more in the bigger cities over the few QP and GT today. I see few Maserati's in my area today but expect that will change. A new Maserati dealership (opened 1/2015) took 2nd place in regional luxury performance car unit sales YTD ... so there is definite "year one" interest in the exotic Maserati.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel ... (and hopefully it's not a train coming).

I've had an excellent experience with my SQ4 and one of the lucky ones. A few enhancements really unleashed its hidden potential.

There is a great group of folks who own the Ghibli so engagement is high, (as seen on Ghibli forum). I've meet a good group of folks who are trying out Maserati for the first time.

The Ghibli could be the entry point for new buyers to trade-up into the more exclusive existing or new Maserati's ... which would help Maserati justify the higher range. Like others have suggested on this thread.

If my experience continues positive with Maserati/Ghibli, I could easily see me pass this one to my wife, (for AWD practicality) and get the 2015/2016 GT-MC or future Alfieri V8 for the added fun factor.>:)
 

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I value brands for a living. The point of the brand is to associate the the good or service with the provider of the good or service, carrying forward the esteem and other intangibles that some people generate from owning a product. Apple is legend at it. They sell average hardware, but have a brand that causes people to do disproportionate economic things with their wallet. Tiffany's does it with diamonds, which are just carbon no matter the name on the box.

Increasing the volumes on Maserati's won't necessarily cheapen the brand. In some ways, the higher volumes increase reliability of the brand, which by extension builds brand equity. We saw that with Jaguar once Ford took them over. Their reliability today is stellar and I have had few mechanical issues with my Jag XF over the last five years.

Next, since production volumes are greater, the amortized tooling and non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs in the parts drops off, which can make the parts cheaper to buy. Jag parts are not cheap, but they are cheaper than Maserati parts. Parts are way cheap for my wife's Camry or my MDX because they sell >250K and >100K vehicles each per model year.

Next, the appearance of proliferation requires geographic context. In Silicon Valley, Tesla's are as common as BMW's and Mercedes in my area. Yet they are so prolific that they are boring. Put that same Tesla in Indy where I live and it is somewhat more rare (though not that rare as we have a dealer here). Go to the Gold Coast of Florida or out to the east bay on Long Island. All exotics, regardless of brand are common there.

Here's the kind of things that will screw the Maserati brand:

1) Fail on the customer experience: This may include poor service, shoddy dealers, etc.
2) Fail on the product: This may include many recalls, peeling paint, etc.
3) Fail on the design: Maserati has a lot of danger here. My Jag XF's design was something exceptional 5-6 years ago. Many comparisons to the Aston Martin DB9. Not bad company, although possibly bad for the AM badge (they had the same designer). However, today, the Toyota Avalon, the Volvos, the Ford Fusion, and others borrowed so heavily from certain design elements (especially in the rear) that the new designs are somewhat familiar and boring. Look at the new Quattroporte. While the front is still clearly Maserati, the back could be any generic car in my humble opinion. Were it not for the badge, one could mistake it for anything common. Yet, the in prior design, there was NO mistaking the Quattroporte from the rear. I think Maserati botched the rear of the Quattroporte from a brand perspective.

The only true way to estimate possible brand impairment absent any directly measurable micro-economic analysis (i.e., profit/revenue erosion) is to actually measure it. The typical device in that case is consumer surveys. Even then, the results may surprise you. Tesla is clearly at the low end of the Maserati price range, yet it has a remarkable brand, especially among computer nerds. That said, I would take a Maserati over a Tesla any day of the week.
 

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The cheapening of the Maserati didn´t come with the new Ghibli but with the diesel. Diesel stinks!
We don't have that model in the US so any changes in the brand have come from other sources. I would suspect that there are people in other countries who don't like seeing a diesel model in the lineup, because it's a diesel, however seems to be are a lot of diesel fans out there.
 

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90% of all Ghiblis sold in Spain are diesel models.
All that means is that Maserati knows its markets.

Pay attention to Pelly. Porsche was going to destroy its brand by introducing a lower cost 'entry' alternative to the various 911's that were the only units in the 'brand', the Boxster, then the Cayman. Then the Panamera, a four-door sedan that was libel and slander to Porsche-philes - the Porsche name would never recover! Then an SUV, of all things un-Porsche!, the Cayenne, now the Macan.

All were going to destroy the Porsche brand!

Result: annual sales grew from 54,234 in 2002 to 162,145 in 2013 and projections for the 2015 year are close to a quarter million vehicle sales.

But wait, there's more! In a 2008 survey conducted by the Luxury Institute in New York, Porsche was awarded the title of "the most prestigious automobile brand". 500 households with a gross annual income of at least $200,000 and a net worth of at least $720,000 participated.

It's only a guess but I'm guessing that The Sweater - that's Sergio Marchione - and John Elkann would adore to reach that level of brand destruction.

Critical: they MUST build a reliable dealer network and they MUST maintain the highest quality of vehicle and service.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Great answers to my post thus far, folks! Thanks very much for your very well-informed opinions!
 

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interesting topic here guys. I think instead of cheeping the brand we are referring to its exclusivity or specialness.

IMO there have been some positives and negatives with the current gen QP and Ghibli. on the plus side I feel Maserati did a good job understanding the needs of the market and building to suit those needs. the new Q4 platform brings the needed all year performance to make this a viable option for year round use in the snowbelt. the styling is still Maserati though less polished than the Pininfarina penned cars of last gen. I think with the ghibli in 2014 they went a bit to far, the standard 18" wheels, plastic trim interior and lack of dual pane windows where at odds with the brand image. They corrected the wheels and the NHV that resulted from the single pane windows, unfortunately they still offer the plastic trim on the base ghibli. When you sit in or look at a ghibli it does not feel as special as a GT or last gen QP but it is20-50k less expensive.

I think they need to do more to differentiate the QP from Ghibli, I don't see $20k of value between a ghibli q4 and QP q4. The QP feels much more mainstream and less bespoke than the previous gen.

But are these bad things for the brand? I don't think so, while I see more maseratis on the road than ever before it is still less than most other brands. Plus owning one make me more on the lookout for other maser's than others may be. The reaction I get in my car is very positive, it grabs attention in a positive way and surprisingly my white ghibli seems to catch more notice than my black qp did.

I think what is cheapening the brand is the used car market and the cost to maintain some of the older models like the duoselect QP. Those cars are selling for under or around $20k because everyone is afraid of the upkeep. As the brand grows hopefully parts pricing will get more inline with other brands which I think will only help resale values as their won't be $5k clutches or $7k variator repairs (hopefully) hanging over the head of used current gen cars...
 

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In this city, older Maseratis are even more rare than current models. True, they're more easily accessible, but I don't think they're in the minds of the average Joe and not affecting the image much. Certainly they're a factor but I doubt it's the driving force in the public's mind.

What I've overheard from others (the change to the brand's prestige) relates to the new cars and is usually followed by some comment such as "they look like Altimas" or "they're affordable now." For a long time Maserati was a brand you talked about but didn't see. Now it's a brand you see much more often.
 

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I have seen more Maseratis (Ghiblis primarily) in the past two weeks than I have in the previous 5 years.
 

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In this city, older Maseratis are even more rare than current models. True, they're more easily accessible, but I don't think they're in the minds of the average Joe and not affecting the image much. Certainly they're a factor but I doubt it's the driving force in the public's mind.
Well said. My Spyder is 13 years old but looks new. I get compliments and photo requests of it all the time. I can tell people that my wife's Camry cost me 20% more (new for the Camry versus 12 years old for the Spyder), but that would ruin the image that they have in their mind, so I don't bother.
 

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So where did they go?

If they somehow felt less exclusive and wanted some other gran tourer, then what?
I have no idea but there are many examples of forum members who were at least somewhat active when the Ghibli was released who expressed disdain for the brand's direction and then stopped posting shortly afterward. Perhaps a couple mentioned what they'd bought instead but I don't remember where they went.
 
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