People say “Form & Function meet. And begin a torrid affair”, “On a scale from 1 to 10, it’s a 500”. Fiat 500 tries to enter US market one more time.
The Fiat 500 is now available for sale in the US market, with 102 dealers on board to sell the car. Currently in question is their recent ad for the car. A short promo was launched during the Super Bowl-2011 with Jennifer Lopez driving through the streets, with people everywhere, clammering to get close to her. The video flashes messages intermittently: “Like the car?” “Go online.” “Like J. Lo?” “Get in line.” At the end it flashes the Fiat 500 logo and gives a tag line, “Life is best when driven.” Fiat claims it was not an ad, but rather a promotional video for Jennifer Lopez’s new single, “Papi”.
Aside from whether it was an ad or a trailer for Jennifer Lopez, there is more controversy. Was it a good promotion for Fiat? Considering the brands current reputation and history in the US market and the market segments that Fiat is going after for the 500, this was decisively not the right ad, placement, or message for the Fiat 500. The one benefit to the ad is that because it was such a debacle, it has gotten a lot of press and attention, which raises people’s awareness of Fiat. The coverage, however, does little to address a lot of the questions potential buyers might have and misses targeting the right customers.
Background: Details about Ad, Company in the US market
Fiat is a company that was in the US market previously, but had a very poor reputation. Their reputation was synonymous with both cheap prices and cheap quality. A common phrase synonymous with the brand was, “Fix It Again, Tony”. Aude Lagorce also recalls their reputation for being “uninspiring” and “shoddy”. Fiat actually stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, which translates to Italian Automobile Factory of Turin. Originating in Italy, Fiat expanded its operations into foreign markets in the 1960’s.It left the US market in 1984. They left with their poor reputation still intact. In 2004, however, Fiat turned away from its past failures and started to forge a new path with a new CEO, Sergio Marchionne. Marchionne set out to remake the brand image and brought the company back to profitability in only one year, after profit losses in all four previous years. Part of the turnaround is attributed to, “slashing jobs and speeding up the introduction of new models” . As Fiat has been making over its image, management, and products, it has taken the initiative to re‐enter the US market. For its initial offering, Fiat is promoting the new Fiat 500, “Life’s newest simple pleasure.” Currently, the Fiat 500 is the only Fiat model available for sale in the US.
What are the Factors in Car Purchase/Consumer Decision Process in Buying Cars
A car is a high involvement purchase and consumers care about many characteristics. Generally speaking, consumers are limited in the number of cars they purchase and plan on keeping a car for a long time in comparison to other products they buy, so it’s a purchase that has a long‐term effect on their budgets and they must carefully narrow down their choices from a lot of options. Qualities that affect a consumer’s decision may include: price, performance, size, mpg, appearance, amenities, reliability, resale value, insurance costs, maintenance, type of fuel used, and brand image. Due to the recent economic downturn and crisis in the auto manufacturing industry, consumers may also be concerned about the longevity of the car company, as many suppliers were in danger of shutting down and not being around to provide parts, or service their vehicles in the future. Also, as we saw with the Clash for Clunkers program and 0% interest rates, consumers may be persuaded to become a buyer when they otherwise might opt out from buying at all, with the right kind of incentive.
To be continued..