The motor to purring. The leather is warm buttery. The curves are elegant. A Ferrari’s nature transcends every particular design feature to immerse its drivers in pure, unadulterated pleasure.
While other businesses speak about their products about building a consumer experience, Ferrari N.V. It’s one of the few brands that achieves it unequivocally — making the famous horse logo a synonym for luxury and excitement. Thomke, the professor of business management for William Barclay Harding, thinks of a student he taught in Dubai’s senior executive program at Harvard, who had the chance to test drive one of Ferrari ‘s vehicles.
Given its legendary success in defining its name, it is also a business that faces modern realities. Ferrari went public in 2015 after nearly 80 years of working as a privately held corporation (ticker mark RACE). Elsewhere, the automotive industry has gone through its biggest shifts in decades, with companies struggling to keep up with innovation — including electrification drivetrain, wireless networking, and self-driving technology.
Many of Ferrari’s rivals, including Porsche and Lamborghini, responded by introducing state-of-the-art innovations, increasing production, and venturing into untraditional models, such as sport utility vehicles (gasp!). So far, Ferrari has stayed true to its lesser legacy of frills, more enjoyable.
What he discovered is what he dubbed “The Ferrari Way” after the company’s chief test driver made an offhand remark. “I’m not sure what tools we ‘re going to use in the future,” the driver said. “But I do know that the Ferrari way can not deploy some new technology in our vehicle.”
In action, this means a careful balance of three elements: pleasure driving, performance and
style. As the marketing head of the company said to Thomke, “We ‘re not the fastest or most comfortable car on the market but the perfect mix of the two, making us the most exciting. Our success definition requires satisfaction.
Although many sports car manufacturers are striving to make their cars as light as possible to help accelerate, Ferrari, for example, has no fear of sacrificing speed for a comfortable cockpit. “They ‘re prepared to put on a few extra pounds because the leather feels special,” Thomke says.
All of these factors have made Ferrari a hot commodity for buyers with a high net worth. Although rivals have expanded demand, Ferrari has purposely reduced supply to establish scarcity, which Thomke terms “deprivation marketing.” The company maintains waiting lists for the most sought-after models and rewards long-term loyal buyers with first chance to buy exclusive edition.
“The entire set of values breaks down if driving is no longer enjoyable, if it doesn’t look amazing, or if it doesn’t give you great results,” says Thomke. “Once the emotional feeling is gone, none of these other things matter.”