Ferrari’s Branding Secret: Get ’Em While They’re Young

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Photo: Michael Moran / Ferrari

Ferrari's newly unveiled Park Avenue showroom is surprisingly light on the cars and heavy on the ... teddy bears? Marco Mattiacci, president and CEO of Ferrari North America explained at the launch party Wednesday night that the company redesigned its New York flagship — complete with Ferrari-branded BMX bikes, skateboards, toy cars, hats, and little-boy polos — in order to target kids between 8 and 12 years old.

This may seem strange, given that the average age of a Ferrari customer is 45. But Mattiacci thinks he has a genius plan. Consider that a Ferrari will set you back around $200,000 after you wait at least six months while it's handmade in Italy to your specifications. Then you can either send it by freight, or shell out another 30 grand to get it sent to you on a plane. People actually do this. Hence, that guy who buys a Ferrari at age 45 is a guy who's known his whole life he wants a Ferrari, no matter the state of the economy or the size of his bonus check, which is why the company's sales did surprisingly okay in 2008.

The secret, then, is to spark the Ferrari lust when they're young. As Mattiacci explained, "the moment where a man or a woman, any human being, defines his greatest aspirations and dreams are from 8 to 12." In other words, remaking a showroom into a playpen for affluent Italophile children in the middle of a recession is just smart forward-thinking. They're also shooting to launch the first hybrid Ferrari in 2014 — good for all those kids whose early memories are now scarred by pictures of oil-covered pelicans.