The Horse Whisperer : We talk to Ferrari's Enrico Galliera

By topgearsingapore, 28 February 2020

Singapore – I could have sworn that 2019 wasn’t the Year of the Horse but the dapper Italian gent seated opposite has me half-convinced that it might as well have been.

None of this should be surprising, given that Enrico Galliera, Ferrari’s Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, has spent the last 10 years growing Ferrari’s sales and drawing up plans to serve the automotive whims of a clientele that can shape reality with a single credit card swipe.

Going by the last 12 months, these are very serious plans indeed.

Galliera and his colleagues cavallino rampante-d over their sportscar competition with a slew of new releases in 2019 – Year 1 of Ferrari’s refreshed five-year strategy which targets to deliver 15 new models and a lineup comprising 60 per cent hybrids by 2022.

Too much to unpack? Yes, we thought so too but managed to snag an hour with Galliera for a crash course in Ferrari’s marketing strategy and learn a thing or two about car shopping habits of the 0.1 per cent.

Tall, smiling and dressed in a sharp navy suit with polished chestnut double monks, Enrico Galliera is exactly how one would expect the marketing point man of one of the world’s most valued brands to appear.

Galliera’s passion for his work is infectious and we quickly get drawn into the method and thought process, which he communicates in the style of a Harvard Business Review case study – clear, structured and concise.

The growth of high net worth individuals has accelerated globally over the last decade and Galliera reckons that Ferrari has only penetrated 0.05 per cent of 18 million HNWIs globally. Not enough, it seems.

The luxury carmaker has expanded its footprint to over 60 markets, with more in the pipeline, where it is represented by a select group of partners and dealers who keep HQ in tune with local market nuances (and of course, a Rolodex of the local who’s who).

Galliera emphasises the hard work that’s been invested to align diverse markets ensure that every client gets the same treatment, experience and connection with the brand regardless of which city they are in.

It’s an objective underlined by Galliera’s firm belief that anyone who can afford a sportscar would like to buy one. His mission is to connect with this special someone to share the thrill and emotion of a Ferrari and offer a range of products that suits his or her distinct needs.

“But isn’t that just a need to be fast and flashy?” Well according to Ferrari’s clients, it’s really a question of degree.

Our interview is peppered with anecdotes of conversations with buyers and how these conversations shape the way Maranello thinks and acts, with constant references to the office mantras of “Different Ferraris for different Ferraristis” and “Different Ferraris for different moments”.

(Click HERE to read about the time the F12tdf hung out with an Isetta 300)

Some of the stories are a little surprising but one thing stands out – people love Ferraris and can’t get enough of them. Well, that and you’d better be a good listener if you want a job at Ferrari.

The result of these conversations is clear definition of Ferraris across “Sport”, “GT”, “Special Series” and “Icona” product ranges. “Sport” is synonymous with Ferrari for most of us – Rosso Corsa with two seats and a screaming engine note. A red-blooded, aggressive thoroughbred for the enthusiast that wants maximum performance and is most likely driving solo.

2019’s F8 Tributo and Spider or the hybrid SF90 supercar are the latest representations of this DNA but if signore would prefer something a little more *ahem* adequate, there is always the 812 Superfast.

(Click HERE to read about our drive of the 812 Superfast)

Gene resists temptation to sign on the dotted line for the new Roma!
Gene resists temptation to sign on the dotted line for the new Roma!

Need to stand out among your buddies because your Ferraris are all the same shade of red? Time to call your friendly dealer to see if you can get on the list for one (or five! Pffft! What’s a few million dollars?) of the Special cars like the sublime 488 Pista! These are ultra-exclusive or unique pieces, “a gift or opportunity” as Galliera puts it, a reward for Ferrari’s best customers.

(Click HERE to read about our drive of the 488 Pista)

(Click HERE to read about the Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale)

Need something special-er than Special? The recently launched “Icona” range, represented by the Monza SP1 and SP2, comprises rare collectibles that are inspired by the most iconic of Ferrari’s back catalog but executed in modern materials and design.

(Click HERE to read about the Monza)

And lastly, the Gran Turismo or GT cars, designed for the owner who prefers a more comfortable experience with family and friends and in less of a hurry. All relatively speaking of course. The GT4Lusso’s 680hp, 6.3-litre V12 takes a relaxed 3.4secs to transport four adults and their matching calf leather luggage from zero to hundred.

(Click HERE to read our review of the GTC4Lusso)

This, to me, is really where the magic happens.

While not the attention-grabbing, flamboyant glamour models of the family, GT models have increasingly found favour and have become an essential part of the carmaker’s strategy as a gateway for many to Ferrari ownership.

The first Gran Turismo car, the Ferrari California may have divided purists due to its front-engined V8 layout but it remains, together with its successors the California T and Portofino, some of Ferrari’s best-selling models. Proportion of Californias that were sold to first-time owners? 70 per cent.

(Click HERE to read our drive of the Portofino)

It's a statistic that Galliera highlights for a good reason – Ferrari owners tend to be brand loyalists and repeat customers and attracting new buyers to “the family” eventually turns them into collectors.

Repeat after me: “Different Ferraris for different Ferraristis. Different Ferraris for different moments”. Yesss… very goooood… loooook into my eyes… giiiive me all your moneyyyy….

The truth is that no buyer ever needs to be convinced. Ferrari’s order books fill quickly for any new car with buyers sometimes spending over two years on waitlist.

A “very good problem”, as Galliera describes it, of having to balance overwhelming demand with exclusivity. To simply make more would not be a solution and Galliera confirms that volumes of existing cars will kept “under control”.

Instead, we will see a number of new products in different segments to satisfy existing clients and attract new ones, kicking off with five new models in 2019.

Galliera readily admits that buyer confusion was a concern with last year’s five releases, particularly in an ultra-competitive supercar space, but assures this was a calculated move to shock the market with cars that defined pillars of the new strategy. In case you’re wondering, yes they’re all sold out and that waitlist is a long one.

One would expect intense competition from the likes of Porsche, McLaren, Lamborghini and Aston Martin to be quite stressful but Galliera remains sanguine and thankful for the attention that competition brings to the industry, seeing it as an opportunity to re-affirm Ferrari’s technological superiority.

SF90 Stradale
SF90 Stradale

The SF90 was released for this purpose and contains the “highest number of technological innovations ever done by the company”. With engines and electric motors fully developed in-house without third party components, the hybrid SF90 was intended less as a plug in hybrid but a statement of capabilities to produce “the best performing car in the market”.

Galliera is equally open to discussing past missteps, conceding that Ferrari had become “a bit predictable”, citing the 458 Italia, which was followed by the similar 488 and F8 Tributo.

(Click HERE to read our F8 Tributo review)

While I personally enjoyed watching this evolution, unpredictability is new norm where we can expect revolutionary rule-breakers like the aforementioned SF90, 812 GTS, Ferrari’s first V12 Spider in 50 years and its latest GT, the Roma.

(Click HERE to read about the gorgeous 812 GTS)

Made in response to demand for a more understated, less intimidating Ferrari that could be used daily, the Roma has proven to be a resounding success, selling out as quickly as the Sports models.

Rather than a question of popularity, it’s a curious quirk in how Ferrari’s buyers approach the purchase of a Sports and GT models differently: Buyers typically want to feel and drive a Gran Turismo model before purchase where its Sports stablemate gets 3,000 orders and a two year waiting list before buyers even see the car.

Like its GT counterparts before, the Roma has helped Ferrari attract new buyers to the fold including, in one case, a “very famous person” who had his assistant call Galliera's because he had fallen in love with the Roma and wanted to find out how to get his hands on one.

(Click HERE to find out more about the Roma)

It’s easy to assume an environment of unflappable confidence at Ferrari amid the triumphant stories but Galliera lets on that the team still gets the jitters before any new car is launched.

Despite the customer feedback, Ferrari had to struggle with whether a product other than an extreme sportscar was consistent with its brand positioning. It took a long hard look back to the 250GT, Monza and GTC of the 60’s to affirm that “la dolce vita” was firmly in Ferrari’s DNA.

This shift in emphasis from aggressive performance and racing heritage to elegance and lifestyle in the Roma’s marketing material sets the tone for 2020, where Ferrari will focus on communicating the distinct characteristics across its product range and release cars at a less breathtaking pace.

This is also where we deny the existence of any elephant in the room next year – speculation has been rife over a Ferrari SUV ever since the fall of 2018 when Ferrari highlighted “Luxury SUV” segment as the prime growth driver of the industry’s Gran Turismo segment and our conversation turns reticent when it comes to discussing the future. “We prefer to talk about what we have” is the order of the day but Galliera did offer some clues after some cajoling.

As part of a continuing effort to redesign product range across the different segment, we will definitely see the Ferrari Purosangue (“purebred” sounds so much less sexy) in the future.

The term “SUV” never leaves Galliera's lips but he confirms the Purosangue will be Ferrari’s “execution of a versatile car” with the same fabled “performance, sportiness and emotion” and “not something existing in the market”.

I almost say “Urus?” out loud before being reminded that this will be only one of 15 new models that Ferrari has committed to deliver by 2022, powered by combinations of internally developed V12, V8 and V6, forced induction and electric motor technologies.

With five done in 2019, it’s going to be an exciting next three years with ten more new Ferraris. Need to calm down?

Once again… “Different Ferraris for different Ferraristis. Different Ferraris for different moments”… “Different Ferraris for different Ferraristis. Different Ferraris for different moments”…ommmmmmmmm…

STORY Gene Kwee
PHOTOS Vanq / David Khoo / Ferrari

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