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Maserati softening its image

In the house: Maserati Australia is engaged in a number of arts sponsorships, including the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Greater number of female and young buyers a Maserati target

30 Jun 2016

MASERATI Australia is attempting to soften its image by sponsoring opera events, which coincides with the introduction of vehicles targeted at younger and female buyers, but the starting price of the brand will not be lowered any further.

Speaking with GoAuto at the local reveal of the Maserati Levante in Sydney, Maserati Australia chief operating officer Glen Sealey said as the brand prepares to double its sales to almost 1000 units next year, it has employed a strategy to change the image of the Italian sportscar brand without cheapening it.

“To soften the brand we’ve embarked on a lot of arts sponsorships, so we’ve been the principle sponsor of the Australian Chamber of Orchestra now for I think it’s four or five years in anticipation of this, to soften the brand,” Mr Sealey started.

“We’re the main automotive sponsor of the Sydney Opera House, so you see a lot of arts sponsorships bringing that brand to a softer level and taking the ‘hair off the chest’ so to speak.”

Asked whether he believed Maserati had been seen as too ‘hard edged’ in Australia, Mr Sealey replied: “Absolutely.”“If I look at the brand in 2010, our demographic was male, 49 years of age, own their own business or entrepreneur, that was it.

“Today we have 21 year-olds, we have much older people. Ghibli, as an example, the largest owner group is 35 to 45 – it’s much younger. We’re seeing 35 per cent female uptake in Maserati now. We weren’t even one per cent in 2010 and we see that being much higher with the Levante as well.

“So it’s working. We’re seeing a higher female uptake, we’re seeing a younger audience attracted to the brand, so the SUV is the right car for that and the market is adapting well to the product and the product to the market.”

Mr Sealey stressed that hard-edged sports coupes were “still important to us” but attracting a wider spread of buyers was critical to achieving brand growth.

In 2010, Maserati sold 141 cars in Australia versus 120 in the previous year.

The brand in 2015 shifted 519 vehicles compared with 401 in 2014.

The Ghibli mid-sized sedan, which two years ago lowered entry to the brand by $70,000 when it arrived priced from $139,990 plus on-road costs, quickly became Maserati’s top-selling model in 2014 and 2015 recording 213 and 345 sales respectively.

The new Levante starts with an identical sticker price to the Ghibli and is expected to topple its sedan sibling for sales next year, however while Mr Sealey is prepared to soften the brand’s image in Australia, he is not prepared to further lower the entry point to the range.

“I think this is it. For us we’ve pondered this carefully and we’ve looked at that $150,000 on-road sort of level … that’s where we see the base level for Maserati is.”

He noted that “other brands” competing with Maserati sell a substantial amount of cars below that figure, but maintained “we’re not in that game.”“We don’t want to be, we don’t need to play in that game. We, on purpose, occupy a higher position, we occupy a very personal sales process and that won’t alter with Levante. Everything will be welcome to the family, not here’s another car.”

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