Maserati masters the art of the small showroom with a new space in Milan offers a window into the luxury sports car maker, providing a place for potential customers to immerse themselves in the spirit of the brand.
Retail concepts are all the rage in the automotive industry. As the traditional dealership model begins to look increasingly outdated, both in terms of presentation and space required, automakers are turning to a combination of enhanced online experiences, one-on-one meetings and test drives, and urban vehicles. More smalls. exhibition halls that are better suited to spontaneous interactions. Maserati has chosen the latter, creating a space in Milan to showcase a new approach to selling cars.
Roadness spoke to Maserati Chief Designer Klaus Busse, Tim Kobe, CEO and founder of New York-based agency Eight Inc, along with designer Markus Nonn, about the debut of this new store. We started by asking how Maserati did things in the past.
“When I travel, it’s a hobby of mine to visit our dealerships around the world,” says Busse. “Some are great, like in Dubai, others are a bit inconsistent. As someone who lives in the future of the brand, I have expectations. How can we develop the narrative process inherent in the sale of a car?’
Maserati approached Eight Inc to handle the setup of these new environments, the first of which is in the Magenta district of Milan. ‘[To start with], we look at what Maserati’s values are,” says Kobe. ‘The idea was to go from a ‘show room’ to a ‘work room’, a place where we could have a dialogue, not a monologue.’
Does the arrival of this store concept indicate a change in customer focus? “I think so,” says Busse. ‘There are different types of cars. Maserati exists in the category where you can close your eyes and see the brand playing out in your own inner cinema. But people have different answers, that’s the beauty of the brand. It is a universe, an emotion. These things have to be addressed by the dealer.
“Quality is ultimately an attitude of mind,” says Kobe. “We put the vehicles in context so you can tell a story about Maserati and help grow the relationship with the customer.” To this end, the Milan concept eschews the convention of having a bunch of shiny cars to navigate and opens up with a more casual seating area. “For the casual visitor, there has to be something to interact with,” says Busse. ‘The first step is like a soft landing, an introduction to the brand.’
From here, with the sights and sounds of Maserati everywhere, albeit muted and less obvious than, say, a car show booth, potential customers are invited into what Kobe calls a “kitchen layout.” , an interactive mood panel of samples, images, and tactile experiences.
“It really is a kitchen table, where the best conversations happen at parties,” says Busse. “Only then do we present the cars to you, using custom models from the company’s Fuoriserie customization program. According to many luxury brands, a Fuoriserie car allows you to start with a blank slate and customize virtually every aspect of the car, from interior stitching to leather to bespoke body colors.
“The dealership is a canvas – it allows us to tweak things to stay relevant.” A coffee bar and screens showcasing traditional craft methods and key Maserati design elements are combined with a state-of-the-art MXE 3D digital configurator, allowing customers to work on “their” car, right then and there. It is more like a tailor or shoemaker than a conventional car showroom.
Working with Eight Inc and furniture partner Cassina, as well as lighting partners Zumtobel and iGuzzini, the concept showroom provides a flexible backdrop for new models as well as old favourites.
“Historically, we’ve had a number of different cars, from the sleek 3500 GT, to the bad boys of the 1980s like the Shamal or the Biturbo,” says Busse. “We didn’t want a showroom that only addressed one aspect of the brand. We are now in this beautiful world of pure customization and we can use the videos, lighting and mood of the showroom to emphasize this.”
The evident building blocks in this Milan concept will soon be seen in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Madrid and elsewhere before the end of the year, with more locations to come. The traditional dealership is more about the product and the transaction, not what Busse describes as “the story, the dream and the emotion.”
“From my point of view as one of our brand managers,” continues the designer, “this is a beautiful concept that allows us to create a closer point of contact with our customers.”
More information maserati.com