Kevin Crowder walked onto the famed Monza, Italy, race track, climbed into a Ferrari F2000 racer, and circled the course with a Grand Prix champion. Mr. Crowder, a Texas businessman who earned millions when he sold a software company he cofounded, isn’t himself a professional driver. He’s a customer of one of Ferrari’s marketing programs: the F-1 Clienti program, under which Ferrari resurrects old race cars that would otherwise be headed for the scrap heap. Instead, it sells them for $1 million or more, along with the chance to drive them with a professional pit crew’s help.
Ferrari has long built its business around exclusivity. It limits production to around 4,500 to 5,000 cars a year at around $180,000 and up. Some customers pay additional money to race these street cars against fellow owners at company-sponsored Ferrari Challenge events. The F-1 Clienti program adds a super-premium service by giving people a chance to drive the same Ferraris used in Formula One, a series of auto races that are especially popular among Europeans.
The program gives customers “an experience they can’t get elsewhere,” says Ferrari CEO Dieter Knechtel. Mr. Knechtel says that the “brand experience is very much related to the ownership experience: It’s about driving and the experience of the car while doing it in a community of like- minded people. This is why, we organize track days and tours in Italy with road tours in different countries, we can organize almost any experience with the car—what we offer to our customers is often a ‘money can’t buy’ experience.”
Critical Thinking Questions
For Mr. Crowder, the Ferrari is a specialty good. What kind of product would it be for you? Why?
Do you think that Ferrari has done a good job of building brand loyalty? Could Ford do the same thing?