Change coming for Piaggio Group USA
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:29 am quote
Ben-

Scooters are an accepted form of economical transportation in Europe. It's not simply "car vs scooter", or filtering versus being stuck in traffic. Piaggio established a common standard 60+ years ago, and it has stuck. Parking is less of a problem, petrol cost is lower, purchase price is lower and a huge portion of the population is daily riders, so the product is well positioned as a "normal" choice. If Piaggio pulled out of the market, others would fill the gap. What goes on over here, as I have said above is product differentiation to try to tilt sales towards your own product. It became quite clear a few years back that Europeans are pretty savvy about scooters, and the cheap Chinese crap never gained traction. (Sound like the Yugo in the US?) Scooters are "serious business" here.

Getting Americans to make a serious shift to scooters as a daily ride, even where the weather is accommodating, would require a significant culture shift. Where Europeans have 60+ years incorporating the scooter into everyday life in all segments of the population, Americans have that much ingrained experience identifying with their automobiles. PTWs reside in another category altogether in the US.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:40 am quote
Belkwinith wrote:
It might be a good idea, if all the scooter companies in the US combine efforts...kinda along the lines of the "Beef, its what's for dinner" commercials or milk advertisements.
You have hit the nail on the head. Without an industry wide emphasis, Piaggio is hurting. But, Honda and Yamaha have a vested interest in motorcycles, and it would take some serious incentives for them to ignore the 10 to 1 popularity of motorcycles to scooters that mark the US market. Scooter sales would have to be seen as being in addition to motorcycle sales by these two giants, not competing.

Keep in mind that the European PTW manufacturers' association, ACEM, represents a 1.5 BILLION Euro per year industry, wherein scooters and mopeds are about 75% of PTW sales. The Industry has good reason to promote PTWs, and particularly scooters. What industry or trade association would show concern for scooter sales in the US, and what kind of resources would they have at their disposal? Scooters are about 10% of US PTW sales.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:01 am quote
samwise wrote:
Does California (the only state that allows lane-sharing in some form) out-sell an equivalent state that does not? Is there an equivalent state? The closest would be somewhere like Florida, I presume (similar climate and living attitude?), but does the left coast thing go further than FL's east coast?
There's really no way to establish causation here because California has a much larger population, different weather (more areas with much milder temperatures), more cities, different median income levels, etc.

Overall, though, I'd say lane splitting does little overall to motivate buyers in CA. It's icing on the cake.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:44 am quote
ericalm wrote:
samwise wrote:
Does California (the only state that allows lane-sharing in some form) out-sell an equivalent state that does not? Is there an equivalent state? The closest would be somewhere like Florida, I presume (similar climate and living attitude?), but does the left coast thing go further than FL's east coast?
There's really no way to establish causation here because California has a much larger population, different weather (more areas with much milder temperatures), more cities, different median income levels, etc.

Overall, though, I'd say lane splitting does little overall to motivate buyers in CA. It's icing on the cake.
I see more ATV's (usually in the beds of pick ups or on trailers) and golf carts here than I do scooters. Maybe a slightly higher concentration of scooters in Miami and the college towns of Gainesville and Tallahassee.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:49 am quote
bagel wrote:
I agree that Piaggio has made a lot of missteps in their marketing in the US, but I don't think they'll achieve any meaningful success marketing their vehicles in the US as luxury objects. That's largely what they've been trying for the last 12 years, which has not been a particularly successful strategy
good points tom. what i meant by "luxury" is that piaggio products, just by their price alone, sets them apart from the u.s. scooter market as a whole. honestly i think they were on the right track with the boutique concept, they should have just been a little more selective/conservative with their chosen markets.

identify key, proven markets and establish vespa "world" or flagship stores. large, piaggio only inventory, and all associated lifestyle products. in smaller markets, allow shops to buy into a franchise to sell/service products and have the ability to use the vespa name. maybe a small flooring of the big sellers, but no minimum to carry the full line. if a customer wants an mp500 you don't stock, the smaller dealer can draw off of the world store inventory for delivery.

the way it's structured now, they use the same formula for every dealer and market, and really don't care about that shops history, focus, intentions, or potential to move product. as long as a shop takes delivery of bikes, piaggio usa has made a "sale" in their books, and that's where their commitment to the u.s. market seems to cease.

there's no in between for smaller markets and shops that would potentially be great, dedicated assets to piaggio u.s.a. and the vespa brand name. they need to rethink the formula if their intent is to at least be profitable and longstanding in the u.s.. they have to concede that any advertising they do is going to sell a metric ass-ton of kymco, genuine, and chinese products. it's just the nature of the u.s. market, and no amount of brand awareness is going to change that. identify a target market, hammer the hell out of it, and let demand grow.

if they want to protect something in the u.s., it should be the quality, knowledge, and service of those handling their product. seriously, what does a shop that sells jetskis and quadrunners, and really has no passion towards scooters do to enhance or protect their reputation? at least with the boutique concept their product was kept on a pedestal and protected. those with the money and desire had access to it, they just put too many of them in the wrong places.

it strikes me as if no one there even bothered to do a market study or identify where this product would or wouldn't sell. i mean, this is business 101 shit, not quantum economics. and as i said before, everyone that wants them to do some big national ad campaign or whatever, just remember this is the u.s.. people will want a vespa after seeing a cool commercial or print ad, but how many will get sticker shock and end up with a kymco, buddy, or chinese scoot instead? best case scenario for them is to structure/market/sell the product as "not the cheapest, but the best", and actually deliver on it via dealer, customer, and market support. as said before, anything i've heard as a consensus is that they lack in all of the above. you guys may be very satisfied with your particular purchase or dealer, but what is the general reality of piaggio u.s.a. as a company? one that is a market leader in sales, quality, and support, or one that is poorly mismanaged and on the verge of packing up.

and i agree 100% with marketing via social media. dead cheap, narrow target market, and ability to push product instead of pulling.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:08 am quote
I say again like i did a few pages back they should target the college kids and younger generation using the internet with a realistic ad campaign. Not the stupid ones with somebody scantly clad sitting on a scooter. A good ad campaign will at leas pique one's interest ans ad time on the internet is cheap. Who know they could get their feet we so to speak on the web and work up to a bigger campaign on TV, magazines etc. Hopefully the new CEO will do something. Also do something for the baby boomers as they are the largest generation out there and are retiring as we speak. Most of them have probably heard of a vespa but out of sight out of mind as they say.

Last edited by judy on Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:09 am quote
jedi stefan wrote:
bagel wrote:
I agree that Piaggio has made a lot of missteps in their marketing in the US, but I don't think they'll achieve any meaningful success marketing their vehicles in the US as luxury objects. That's largely what they've been trying for the last 12 years, which has not been a particularly successful strategy
good points tom. what i meant by "luxury" is that piaggio products, just by their price alone, sets them apart from the u.s. scooter market as a whole. honestly i think they were on the right track with the boutique concept, they should have just been a little more selective/conservative with their chosen markets.
The thing is that if you get people in the showroom with the Vespa name you can show them other options like the BV or the SportCity, all made by Piaggio.

A decent salesman should be able to sell one over a Kymco or Sym on the build quality alone, given that there is not much of a price difference at the 250/300 range.
A People is MSRP at $4499, and a SportCity at $4699.

Come on, who would not want an Italian scooter over a Kymco for $200 more?
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:32 am quote
rgconner wrote:
The thing is that if you get people in the showroom with the Vespa name you can show them other options like the BV or the SportCity, all made by Piaggio.

A decent salesman should be able to sell one over a Kymco or Sym on the build quality alone, given that there is not much of a price difference at the 250/300 range.
A People is MSRP at $4499, and a SportCity at $4699.

Come on, who would not want an Italian scooter over a Kymco for $200 more?
you're making a huge assumption that someone who's interest is piqued about a scooter, is ready to drop 5 g's on one. my point is that americans walk into a scooter shop thinking these things cost well under 2k. now, you're just barely scraping the quality 50cc offerings in that range, and 50's really aren't all that practical in some markets without moped considerations. what is the dealers profit margin on a kymco vs. piaggio? what kind of warranty do you get with each? these are all facets that need to be considered when estimating what would sell the best, or make all parties involved happiest.

and i think we've concluded that people go into a showroom because vespa=scooter in most of the the u.s.. not because "vespa is the best, and i want that over brand x".
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:42 am quote
I talk to people all the time about scooters available here in Reno, NV. In terms of quality and service and reliablility, they can't go wrong with Vespa. The dealer here is wonderful and stands behind their products. I also mention Hondas, Yamahas, Apprillas that are sold here. They are good and their techs are top notch. Then there are a few places selling the cheap Chinese knockoffs. I tell people never buy one of them. If it breaks you are on your own. Dealer does not stand behind products. Parts will be impossible to get, and who will do the work for you around here? Nobody. Sure, you pay a little more for a Vespa, but the intangibles are priceless.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:43 am quote
jedi stefan wrote:
rgconner wrote:
The thing is that if you get people in the showroom with the Vespa name you can show them other options like the BV or the SportCity, all made by Piaggio.

A decent salesman should be able to sell one over a Kymco or Sym on the build quality alone, given that there is not much of a price difference at the 250/300 range.
A People is MSRP at $4499, and a SportCity at $4699.

Come on, who would not want an Italian scooter over a Kymco for $200 more?
you're making a huge assumption that someone who's interest is piqued about a scooter, is ready to drop 5 g's on one. my point is that americans walk into a scooter shop thinking these things cost well under 2k. now, you're just barely scraping the quality 50cc offerings in that range, and 50's really aren't all that practical in some markets without moped considerations. what is the dealers profit margin on a kymco vs. piaggio? what kind of warranty do you get with each? these are all facets that need to be considered when estimating what would sell the best, or make all parties involved happiest.
This could be one reason why having Vespas in multi-line shops may be the best dealer model for most of America outside the top 5-10 markets with boutiques. A lot of people wander in to look at Vespas and get immediate sticker shock. The axiom that gets tossed around a lot on MB is "Those who want a Vespa and can afford one get a Vespa. Those who want a Vespa and can't get a Buddy." Vespas get people in the door.

As far as Vespas being sold as luxury items, what's weird is how the company straddles the line between treating them that way and not. Yes, they sell in "boutiques" (though these are becoming fewer) but their primary marketing appeals for the past several years have been economy, practicality and savings. As I've said more than a few times, this makes little sense to me as a selling point for the most expensive scooters (in their classes) on the market, especially when others have them beat in these aspects. Emphasizing economy aims at and attracts the wrong buyers—those most concerned with these qualities. These are also the buyers most apt to look for the best deal and compare various makes while being the least likely to splurge. For most people who actually buy Vespas, "Vespanomics" is at best a bonus, often no more than a justification for buying something they would have anyways.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:57 am quote
ericalm wrote:
This could be one reason why having Vespas in multi-line shops may be the best dealer model for most of America outside the top 5-10 markets with boutiques. A lot of people wander in to look at Vespas and get immediate sticker shock. The axiom that gets tossed around a lot on MB is "Those who want a Vespa and can afford one get a Vespa. Those who want a Vespa and can't get a Buddy." Vespas get people in the door.
which is why i suggest they have the option to buy into a franchise, and not be beholden to ridiculous minimums and profit margins. piaggio should be compensated in some capacity for use of the name (especially if it sells other brands), but make sure it's a shop dedicated to quality, knowledgeable service and support if the need arises. it relieves piaggio of pushing the inventory all over the place, builds on brand/name recognition, and really makes it a clear profit in their books by way of simply licensing the name.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:22 am quote
Stefan-

I would imagine that one major question that your "franchise with low inventory" model would raise is where would scooters be warehoused, and would there be a higher unit cost distributing them in "onesie - twosies". Keep in mind that since scooters for the US market must be "batch produced", Piaggio USA is always going to have to make a decision as to how many to have built and shipped. They can't get just a few pulled out of the Euro market inventory and modified to US DOT/EPA standards. It must be an identifiable, discrete production run specifically to US standards. Consequently, they expect the dealer network, right or wrong, to carry part of the burden of flooring inventory.

We have have your low inventory option here in Europe, but most dealers still have an assortment of models on the floor so that customers can make an informed choice. And over here, there are many more models to choose from.

The tough nut to crack is the relatively tiny size of the US market. Makes a "one size fits all" strategy difficult.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:29 am quote
rgconner wrote:
Come on, who would not want an Italian scooter over a Kymco for $200 more?
Do you know exactly what's inside that "Italian" scooter?

Vespa & Taiwan; a rich heritage?

Parts from the "land" of Kymco, Buddy, and SYM!

Just pointing that out, as I was a bit surprised...
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:40 am quote
Aviator47 wrote:
You have hit the nail on the head. Without an industry wide emphasis, Piaggio is hurting. But, Honda and Yamaha have a vested interest in motorcycles, and it would take some serious incentives for them to ignore the 10 to 1 popularity of motorcycles to scooters that mark the US market. Scooter sales would have to be seen as being in addition to motorcycle sales by these two giants, not competing.

Keep in mind that the European PTW manufacturers' association, ACEM, represents a 1.5 BILLION Euro per year industry, wherein scooters and mopeds are about 75% of PTW sales. The Industry has good reason to promote PTWs, and particularly scooters. What industry or trade association would show concern for scooter sales in the US, and what kind of resources would they have at their disposal? Scooters are about 10% of US PTW sales.
Great discussion everyone... A curiosity question regarding this statement would be that since the sales percentages of motorcycles vs. scooters are almost exactly the opposite between Europe and the U.S., how are motorcycles marketed (as a minority player) in the E.U. and could that strategy apply to the scooter market in the U.S. in any way?

Carry on everyone... If folks keep up the brainstorming here Piaggio won't have to pay a cent for a good marketing plan - it will have been developed for free on MV!

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Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:50 am quote
primordialdancer wrote:
Aviator47 wrote:
You have hit the nail on the head. Without an industry wide emphasis, Piaggio is hurting. But, Honda and Yamaha have a vested interest in motorcycles, and it would take some serious incentives for them to ignore the 10 to 1 popularity of motorcycles to scooters that mark the US market. Scooter sales would have to be seen as being in addition to motorcycle sales by these two giants, not competing.

Keep in mind that the European PTW manufacturers' association, ACEM, represents a 1.5 BILLION Euro per year industry, wherein scooters and mopeds are about 75% of PTW sales. The Industry has good reason to promote PTWs, and particularly scooters. What industry or trade association would show concern for scooter sales in the US, and what kind of resources would they have at their disposal? Scooters are about 10% of US PTW sales.
Great discussion everyone... A curiosity question regarding this statement would be that since the sales percentages of motorcycles vs. scooters are almost exactly the opposite between Europe and the U.S., how are motorcycles marketed (as a minority player) in the E.U. and could that strategy apply to the scooter market in the U.S. in any way?

Carry on everyone... If folks keep up the brainstorming here Piaggio won't have to pay a cent for a good marketing plan - it will have been developed for free on MV!
Marketing is only part of it. One thing is that urban planning, roads, commutes, population density, mass transit and so many other factors are much different in Europe (and the rest of the world) than the US. I'm not sure that's a marketing problem, aside from how we can market scooters as realistic transportation options in the US despite (or because of) these differences.

Redesigning our cities and highways isn't likely. Changing consumers' attitudes about transportation may be. I think it's possible that over the next couple decades, Americans will start to examine and choose their vehicles based much more on usage and need than they do now. Some of this will result from a transition to more shorter-range electrics, some from economic necessity, some from availability of many more alternative modes of transportation than currently exist.

I know how ridiculously optimistic and ideal that sounds. But if our attitudes about communication, commerce, entertainment, politics, privacy, etc. can be completely transformed in 20 years, so can our approach to transportation. We now have a precedent for a relatively rapid paradigm shift (please forgive me for using that) in aspects of modern life we once felt were immutable.
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:55 am quote
Motorcycle.com picks up change in leadership announcement:
http://www.motorcycle.com/news/piaggio-group-americas-ceo-steps-down-90523.html
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Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:58 am quote
I most definitely agree Eric... There are multiple aspects that need to be taken into account when looking at the big picture. As far as what you said, there are many individuals and companies both in the U.S. and globally who have the knowledge necessary to implement the changes that need to be made, it is a matter of educating the public on why making those changes is important to their lives and getting the public to support said efforts.

...and (if we actually have time left before the zombie apocalypse occurs...) a couple of decades of hard work might actually pay off in the long run in terms of increased use and acceptance of scooters in the U.S.

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Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:52 pm quote
ericalm wrote:
Motorcycle.com picks up change in leadership announcement:
http://www.motorcycle.com/news/piaggio-group-americas-ceo-steps-down-90523.html
They basically got the information from MV..............

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Fri Mar 11, 2011 2:35 pm quote
Sorry to bump, but I thought I would share this I got from a friend who used to work at the Jacksonville dealership

From what he told me, Miguel is a right choice for this

PGA Executive Leadership Change_letter to dealers_3-8-11.pdf
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Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:10 am quote
An interesting coincidence: The CEO of Piaggio USA steps down, and the recently-established dealership arrangement with BMW in Toronto is immediately terminated. Since BMW was busy cultivating (e.g. organizing activities) for the scooter crowd up to the last minute, one can assume that the termination was initiated by Piaggio. It struck a lot of people as an "odd couple" situation in the first place.
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