Fiat and their customers — what do they want and what are they getting?

An assignment for branding and advertising asked us to choose a brand and examine their ideal client, what the client wants, what the brand is doing right, how the brand is failing them, and whaat the brand can do to give the client what they want. I chose Fiat USA as my brand. Here is my analysis.

FIAT USA

Primary customer:

Michael is a 34-year-old web developer with an annual income of $60,000. He is single and educated (undergrad degree) and has a “hipster” vibe. He is analytical and logical but also likes to have fun and is socially conscious. He spends time with his friends and dating on the weekends and has traveled to Europe. He appreciates diverse cultures and tends to eat “ethnic foods.” He is on Instagram and posts photos of what he does on the weekends and of his travels. He is tech-savvy and spends money on new technology, but, as a Millennial, he is conscious of not overspending and of not being greedy (he is anti-80’s-style greed). 

In making buying decisions, Michael first examines basic facts, looking for what makes a product or service stand out as different, but ultimately bases his decision on a gut feeling – his emotions. He tends to decide quickly and likes change; he’s always up for trying the latest high-tech gadget. Based on Bryan Eisenberg’s idea of “how customers interact with brand” (Goris, p.8), Michael is more Spontaneous, but he leans toward the Humanistic side of Spontaneous as he is concerned about his effect on others and the environment. Like most Millennials, Michael does not fit neatly into one box (Nickalls, 2018).

What Michael wants from Fiat:

Michael is looking for a new car to replace his older used car. He wants a small, sporty car that reflects his sense of style and culture and that works well in the city. He wants to stand out as being innovative and “ahead of the curve,” but he doesn’t want to spend too much. He wants a reliable car that is innovative and powerful that also gets good gas mileage. He wants a car that reflects his success but doesn’t scream greed. 

How does Fiat meet Michael’s needs?

Fiat brands itself as passionate,powerful, and fashion-forward—as well as innovative(as stated on their Instagram account). You can see this in several of their ads: “Blue Pill,” “Love Affair,” “The Italians are Coming,” “Duel of the Scorpions,” and “Immigrants.” Fiats have comparable gas mileage and price points to other sporty city cars (e.g., Mazda Miata, Audi A3). Fiats are priced for younger buyers – cars start at $14,995 and go up to $28,995 for base models (per Fiat website). Fiat offers strong leasing programs, and in fact is the most leased brand of car in the United States (Cartelligent), making Fiat even more affordable for younger buyers.

How does Fiat fail Michael?

Fiat is not known for its reliability. In fact, Fiat came in last (28thout of 28) in Consumer Reports’ 2015 annual reliability study (Mays, 2015). There were two recalls on Fiats from the summer of 2014 through the fall of 2017 when I owned a Fiat 500L (personal experience), going against Michael’s need for reliability. The Fiat brand is associated with Fiat Chrysler’s cheating scandal in which they lied about the gas mileage of their diesel cars (Novak, 2007). 

Fiat’s Instagram account merely shows photos of the cars. It does not illustrate their brand values of passion, power, or fashion. It claims innovation (in the bio section), but it does not demonstrate this in the photos, thus not demonstrating that Michael’s needs will be met. The merchandise section of the Fiat website is ugly and outdated. For a tech-savvy hipster such as Michael, there is nothing appealing about the merchandise, nothing he would be interested in owning to reflect his love of Fiat outside of his owning a car – if he ever gets to the point of buying a Fiat.

What can Fiat do better to meet Michael’s needs?

Fiat can be proactive in preventing recalls, improving their products to make them more reliable. Instead of just stating their gas mileage, Fiat can prove it against city cars that have worse gas mileage. Create videos that have a comparison against competitor cars. This will appeal to Michael’s need for basic facts, where he is looking for how one product differs from others.

Fiat should do a complete redesign of the merchandise section of their website. Make it sexy. They should offer more fashion-forward merchandise: hipster-style clothing that is branded with Fiat logos, but not ostentatiously. This will appeal to Michael’s Spontaneous side.

Fiat should create signature stories around the brand. The only hashtag they have in the bio section of their Instagram account is #Fiat. There are no people in any of their Instagram photos. They should take photos of people (of different genders and ethnicities) with their cars and create stories around those photos. They should encourage customers to create and share their own signature stories. This will appeal to Michael’s Spontaneous and Humanistic sides.

References:

“Which Car Brands Do People Lease or Buy?” (nd). Cartelligent (blog). https://www.cartelligent.com/blog/which-car-brands-do-people-lease-or-buy

Fiat website: https://www.fiatusa.com

Goris, Dennis. “LW03 Audience + Competition.” 2018

Mays, Kelsey. “Consumer Reports Reliability Study: Toyota Thrives, Fiat Fails.” October 21, 2015. Cars.com. https://www.cars.com/articles/consumer-reports-reliability-study-toyota-thrives-fiat-fails-1420682551916/

Nickalls, Sammy. “Infographic: Marketers Need to Stop Pandering to Millennials.” June 11, 2018. AdWeek. https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/infographic-why-marketers-need-to-care-about-millennial-identity/

Novak, Jake. “Why Fiat Chrysler, VW Thought They Could Get Away with Cheating.” Jan 12, 2007. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/12/fiat-emissions-scandal-straight-out-of-cheating-culture-commentary.html

“Blue Pill” ad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAcLViTHDOo

“Duel of the Scorpions” ad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enirrZs5qmw

“Immigrants” ad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afw2kPJ67pU

“Love Affair” ad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la-Jt8adw1U

“The Italians are Coming” ad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2KFMD5xZVE

 

 

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