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Alfa Romeo/Super Bowl ads

Discussion in 'Mopar / FCA News' started by humdrum, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. JavelinAMX

    JavelinAMX Well-Known Member

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    .
    ... Furthermore ( not covered elsewhere in this thread that I could see ) so-called BabyBoomers are still buying/leasing cars, though they're in their 60's and 70's. After the great crash, they might not have that much money - however, it's quite possible some just might. They do remember both Alfa and Fiat from their first efforts here in N.A. They're the ones who named Fiat : "Fix It Again, Tony"; and named Ford : "Found On Road Dead" - and the like.

    They have the life experiences which qualify them ( or at least They think so! ) to speak out on such issues. And they will (they made the Internet happen, you know).

    I don't know if those people would consider testing, much less buying/leasing an Alfa. If they did and Alfa's history is repeated as Fiat's history is repeating before our eyes - they will make sure people listen. They will also tell others if it proves worthy.

    It won't matter the product's target audience - no one is going to debar any real customer a chance to acquire one.
     
  2. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    The difference is Americans have known Jeep for 75 years, and Wrangler has the strongest loyalty in the market; those loyal customers buy Jeeps over and over helping sales.

    All Americans know of FIAT is that it is the flunk brand that left North America in infamy many years ago and is now trying to get back. FIAT doesn't enjoy neither the familiarity nor the loyalty that Jeep has, and it won't as long as it stays at the bottom of the quality charts.

    The 124 is too niche to do anything. Here's a rule of thumb about volume: take a vehicle with 4-doors, then remove two doors and you get only 10% of demand left; then remove the rear seats and you get 10% of that left. That's not very many people left to generate traffic.
     
  3. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Perception is reality. If consumers think FIAT is crap they won't get near it and the brand is doomed.

    Rough, but that's how the world turns.
     
  4. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    I worked at JD Power many years ago. It think it was right after the earth's crust cooled down. Yes, their methodology is not the most advanced, but their numbers are a very close approximation of reality, if nothing else thanks to the laws of probabilities.

    FIAT has been trailing most other brands not once, not twice, but consistently. That alone tells me there's an issue with FIAT. Also, in most years you see FIAT trailing other brands by significant deficits. Again, another big warning something's amiss with FIAT.

    JDPA data, however stable or not, gives enough clear evidence, year after year, that FIAT has a quality problem in North America. Even if it is a perceived problem, it is a problem. But I can't say I recall, not even once, FIAT trying to address it with the public.
     
  5. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Correct, I don't work in Europe, but I know the markets from Canada to Argentina. Now, you may believe that's not worldly enough for you but the patterns we see in the data are very consistent across markets. I can assure you the issues FIAT faces throughout the Americas are not isolated. If you don't see them in Europe is because history and market inertia mask them. But they are there.

    But go ahead and continue believing whatever makes you happy.
     
    #465 aldo90731, Feb 11, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
  6. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    As I explained already, familiarity cuts brands a lot of slack. Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler etc., as poor as they rank on quality charts enjoy familiarity --and loyalty-- on these shores and that helps them sell. FIAT doesn't have any of that here.

    The same thing is true of FIAT in Italy: it keeps selling despite its many issues and almost going bankrupt a few years ago. But that doesn't mean FIAT can expect to grow its business outside its home base with shitty product any more than Dodge or Chrysler can.
     
    #466 aldo90731, Feb 11, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
  7. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    What you are insinuating is utter nonsense.

    In 1999 a global OEM paid JD Power to come to Korea to analyze its manufacturing processes, identify where quality problems were being introduced, and help find solutions. The OEM took its quality problem very seriously and incrementally improved quality; 10 years later it started to show world-class levels of quality based on the hard work they did.

    Other automakers have contracted JD Power for all kinds of engagements over the years with varying degrees of success. The difference usually stems from the automaker's commitment to fixing the issues.

    My first job at JDPA was managing the dealer satisfaction study for a top German automaker. The client seemed to be under the impression that because they paid us $1M to survey its dealers we would automatically "make sure" their annual scores would look good. The teams that work surveying owners and those consulting OEMs are completely separate, and rarely talk to each other. I got an earful when he found out that I had no influence on annual scores.

    I've heard clients say what you are saying only when the don't like the results.
     
    #467 aldo90731, Feb 11, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  8. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Not nice.

    At least the feeling is mutual.
     
  9. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Don't forget Alfa customers will be a LOT more demanding than the Walmart crowd buying FIATs --no offense to Walmart.
     
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  10. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Bingo.
     
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  11. KrisW

    KrisW Well-Known Member

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    There's the nub of the issue. This is a survey of perceptions and expectations - the FIAT models sold in the UK and Germany are pretty much the same as those sold in the USA. The products have the same absolute, measureable quality, but the expectations and perceptions of the buyers are different.

    What's of more interest is the movement of the brands in the rankings, because that shows whether the product is improving (or whether buyers are getting used to the placement of the radio controls...). It's promising that FIAT has consistently improved its score in this survey, and is now crawling slowly up the table, but it's also disappointing when you see that coupled with a dramatic fall by Dodge.

    @aldo90731 I would not be surprised at all if a car company had expected to buy their way to a good survey rating. That has traditionally been the way car makers interact with the automotive press in Europe. I'm most familiar with the UK press, and with only a couple of exceptions, it's so transparently driven by ad spending that they have no credibility left - cars can win group tests one month, and be listed as worst-in-class the next if the manufacturer stops spending money with the magazine.
     
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  12. humdrum

    humdrum Well-Known Member

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    Two points. One was that I remember the old Alfa and the one's I remembered were owned by physicians, and other professional people. Meaning that they were owned by people that had the wherewithal to own them -education, money etc...

    Second, Alfa was always the love interest of the Winterkorn's and Volkswagen AG. It means that they were high enough on the lust factor to be coveted by the Germans. So the Italians must have done something right to deserve that appeal.
     
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  13. Prabhjot

    Prabhjot Active Member

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    The difference is that Brazilians and Argentinians, not to mention Turks and Europeans have known FIAT for many decades too. Europeans (back before contemporary 'globalization') have 'known' Alfa Romeo for even more decades. The Chinese have not known any throughout their Maoist decades, which is why even American brands with no cachet, prestige or quality/reliability/etc-credibility in the rest of Asia (the largest auto baazar region of the world) like say Cadillac or say Lincoln or indeed Chevrolet sell 'well' there. As will, am sure, Alfa, just as Maserati already does, as this last does in the usa too.

    Point is: Alfa like Maserati does not have to sell German-firm numbers anywhere (except Italy.) It has only to sell profitably: made in Italy and exported everywhere for the required scale, with each new launch model building on the prior in its new/unfamiliar/wary markets, and eventually with its tech getting shared at Dodge and Maserati and Jeep too for (hopefully) even more scale/sharing, i.e., profitability.

    Given the shared dealerships with Jeep/Maserati/Fiat (depending on the country/region) and the common mopar branded backend/process, i don't see why this or that negative perception or wariness or adverse-memory imperils the Alfa project. And it is not as if they're useless at this stuff: they've grown Maserati a lot, and of course premium-positioned Jeep in Europe, China, brazil, now India, all in the last few years.

    WORK IN good PROGRESS is what fca is: it's a very young firm after all, just that all its brands seem enabled/haunted by their venerable ages, histories, legacies.

    Let's see if they botch it up (as they did with Fiat in the usa and china too, as imo they have certainly not with Jeep globalization or with Maserati, all told.)
     
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  14. npaladin2000

    npaladin2000 LOAD "*",8,1

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    I find myself wondering if that familiarity hurt FCA, because they never saw a need to address quality issues at the main American brands. Yeah, familiarity sells cars sometimes, but a sense of bad initial quality leads to a low NPS.
     
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  15. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Yes. It cuts both ways. But unless you had a truly horrible experience, better the devil you know...
     
  16. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Either that, or the Italians haven't had a chance to royally screw up Alfa Romeo the way the have FIAT and Lancia. But chances are Alfa Romeo is simply better aligned with those things Italians are well known to do best, just like Maserati and Ferrari.
     
  17. npaladin2000

    npaladin2000 LOAD "*",8,1

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    Yeah you might know the devil. But you're not going to encourage your neighbor or friend to do business with him. The best advertisement is a happy and satisfied customer.
     
  18. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    This is like saying that because you don't know what causes rain, it must be the gods punishing or favoring you. I agree that it is hard to stomach such fluctuation in the data year after year. But the causes are less nefarious.

    Among the reasons JDPA scores jump and down are --in descending order:
    • Product mix. Launching a big-selling model like F150 will have more impact on overall scores than launching a peripheral model like C-Max. If F150 launches with many issues, it will drag down Ford scores. Also, as we saw with Ford's Sync: when a problematic system is launched across many models, it will hurt brand scores.
    • Loyalty. Loyal customers will give you higher scores. In mature markets like NA and EU, up to 3/4 of sales are by returning customers. But loyalty doesn't represent an equal share of buyers along the product lifecycle. For instance, when Honda launches an all-new Accord, it will see a higher % of new customers in first two years, while a higher % of repeat buyers in remaining 3 years. This shift in the buyer composition will impact scores. Further, brands like Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevrolet and Ram have strong loyalty, making their numbers more stable. Weak loyalty brands like FIAT, Chrysler, Dodge, Nissan and Mitsubishi see more volatility in their scores. Even more, when a brand like Chrysler or Dodge axes a core model, like a sedan, they can expect their loyalty to drop, and their scores will become more volatile. FCA's corporate culture does not embrace customer retention. Until they do, they will struggle with all sorts of metrics.
    • OEM meddling. Yes, automakers will try to influence scores by doing special campaigns during the months they know Power will survey customers. But this really only has a slim chance to influence IQS, which is done 90 days after purchase. VDS and CSI survey 3+ year owners, making it nearly impossible to influence.
    I can't speak for other companies, but like I already said: JD Power does not allow one side of the business to influence the other. Is there room for the appearance of conflict of interest? Yes, there is, and this has been a criticism of JD Power's. But FWIW, I worked there and I can tell you that's not the case.

    Another criticism of the JD Power methodology is that it publishes rankings based on scores that are not statistically significant. This is a real issue. But even if FIAT's score is not statistically significant from Smart or Land Rover, it is still at the bottom, and continues to sit there year after year. Now THAT's the issue!
     
    #478 aldo90731, Feb 11, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  19. aldo90731

    Staff Member Level III Supporter

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    Correct. And this is precisely why Toyota and Honda have succeeded, while FIAT has failed in North America. Even if you think that Toyotas are bland, boring and not for you, whenever your neighbor, your aunt or your boss asks for a recommendation, the last thing you want is to be blamed for telling them to buy a POS. So you take the safe route and tell them to go buy a Toyota or a Honda...and leave you alone. After all, if they are disengaged enough to have to ask someone else, chances are they won't be able to tell how good or bad a Toyota drives either.

    On the other end the same thing happens: you own a FIAT 500 Abarth; you just love to drive that thing, how it sounds, looks, etc. But it is rough around the edges, and you've had some quality issues. But because you love it so much, you are willing to put up with them. When the same neighbor, aunt or boss comes asking for a recommendation, you are not going to tell them to buy one because you already know its shortcomings and won't hear the end of it. So you tell them to go buy a Toyota or Honda...and leave you alone.

    Recommendation ranks among the top three sources of information when buying an automobile, and not having it is a huge handicap, especially for a brand trying to get a foothold in the market.

    Product Quality is this overarching characteristic everyone wants: enthusiasts, non-enthusiasts, males, females, married, single, rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, Christian or Muslim. That's not the case with performance, styling, or even fuel economy. Some buyers don't care about performance, others don't care how a vehicle looks, and as weird as it sounds, some don't even care about fuel economy. But who wants a shitty car...?

    This is why a strong quality reputation drives sales volume: it appeals to everyone and promotes recommendation, further multiplying its effect.
     
    #479 aldo90731, Feb 11, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  20. mentalicca

    mentalicca Well-Known Member

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    So I think we have strayed waaay too far off topic, but this is a great ongoing discussion that merits further thought, can we make a new thread out of it?

    As aldo, I currently work in a similar industry (customer satisfaction analysis). I am merely a software nutjob (engineer) and not the one doing analyses, but we deal inherently with customer perception.

    I can tell you we have turned around multi million dollar businesses by helping show them where exactly they are failing to meet or exceed customer expectations. We have also lost businesses who "went in another direction" only to see them disregard our results and plummet in customer experience related metrics.

    While I like to work with data and numbers (I am a statistics enthusiast by the nature of my job), I can give you a real life example of customer perception issues.

    Jeep:
    I had my 2014 Cherokee Trailhawk 3.2 for a little over a year. It was a good vehicle but small. I did have the dreaded transmission clunk, but had it taken in to the dealer and (after a longer time than it should have taken) had the transmission replaced. It was better but not perfect. It didnt effect driveability at that point so I was not too bothered. It was a great little vehicle, that ultimately wasn't big enough for our needs. I tell people as such.

    On the flip side, an old family friend bought a base model FWD Cherokee around the same time. Whether his transmission issue (since it was all over the news at that point) was real or perceived I don't know. But he was laser focused on any flaw the vehicle may or may not have had. The transmission was "junk" and the vehicle was a big failure in his mind. He said he would never buy another american vehicle again. These blanket prejudices happen a lot more than you might think.

    To counter that with a positive experience, Ram:
    My father recently started leasing Ram 1500 trucks after his 05 dakota finally gave out. The first one was a great vehicle, it had the Ram Box, 8spd and Hemi, a decently equipped base model truck.

    I told my friends who were looking into new trucks to try out a Ram, stating how well work it worked out for my dad so far. They were unsure at first, but ended up leasing one themselves. Not only did they love it, but because of the positive experiences they and my father had, my brother upgraded to a Ram Rebel and that friend's sister also bought one. They are all on lease number 2 (save for my brother whose Rebel was a purchasd, his "10 year" vehicle allegedly).

    The quality was there and the purchase experience was easy enough. Barring some unfortunate issue that will reduce the brand's perception among them FCA trucks got 3 new loyal customers.

    These cases are anecdotal obviously, but these individual cases on a grander scale are what help shape customer perception for a given brand. The question is, what is FCA doing to improve perception of quality as well as actual quality?

    FWIW, every Dodge or Jeep I have owned has been pretty much bulletproof sans that issue with the Cherokee.
     
    GasAxe, wtxiceman, somber and 2 others like this.

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