Smart women take Lamborghini to new heights

Smart women take Lamborghini to new heights

WOMEN buyers helped Lamborghini hit a new global benchmark in September, with the Italian supercar maker delivering 738 vehicles to customers in one month, recording its best *September ever.

The result shows how action in attracting female buyers speaks louder than words: you hear a lot from car manufacturers about how they want to cater to the all-important female market, but little evidence of it shows up on the car showroom floor.

Women, after all, are globally acknowledged for making about 85 per cent of car-purchase decisions.

Lamborghini’s focused approach shows how to make a material difference in the space.

'If you have a certain kind of personality and your attitude is to be yourself, you certainly like to drive a Lamborghini.'

In late 2017, the brand hired former Aston Martin and Ferrari staffer Katia Bassi as the company’s first female board member ever. Her job has been to help the brand transform and soften the perception around Lamborghinis being a male-only play space.

As the chief marketing and communications officer, one of Bassi’s first initiatives was to create the Lamborghini Female Advisory Board (FAB) in 2018, comprising predominantly entrepreneurial female Lamborghini owners from around the world.

Then, in 2019, the company started making serious inroads to the female market with the launch of its first “Super” SUV, the Urus, which arrived in Australia early in the year. Produced after a doubling of production sites and volumes, the Urus has attracted a slew of customers of which more than 70 per cent are new to Lamborghini, Bassi says.

Her aim with the FAB is to do a deep dive into its member's experiences - in both their cars and their lives - to help shape Lamborghinis of the future but also to inform the company about how to more meaningfully communicate with drivers of the future.

“We see Lamborghini [as being] very much inclusive, not gender-specific,” Bassi told Madam Wheels during an interview last year. “We prefer to think about personalities rather than, you know, men or women. If you have a certain kind of personality and your attitude is to be yourself, you certainly like to drive a Lamborghini. It's expressing your personality … so you can make a statement.”

Surely it’s a show-off car?

“It's a show-off of the personality, not of the money,” she says “That’s different. Because if you have money, you can buy any other super sports car.”

Increasingly, women are choosing Lamborghinis, and today they account for 10 per cent of Urus buyers and about 4 per cent of the supercar range, Bassi says.

She hopes to boost those percentages via her understanding of the lifestyles, sensibilities and personalities of those among the FAB.

The board's impressive roll call of members were invited on to the FAB not because of any perceived social media fame or their notoriety - honourable or otherwise. Rather, the 200 or so driven women were selected, according to a Lamborghini media release, for being recognised as “challengers” - having overcome a personal hardship at some stage to realise their successes.

In getting them together, Lamborghini aims to tap into what’s important to the FAB cohort in every aspect of their lives.

A common denominator among them is their desire “to change perspectives and drive positive change - now and for the next generations - regardless of gender, social class or circumstance”.

“We want women who are able to buy a super sports car by themselves, or women who have done something really revolutionary,” she says. “We want to hear what they're expecting from the car of the future, from their careers and about the challenges that they had when they started, or the challenges they still have.

“[These FAB] women did something special for humanity. So we want these kind of women to tell us how they live their normal lives, how they approach this world [and] what they envisage could be the change of the future.”

Commercially, that makes a lot of sense given recent surveys Bassi referred to showing that, by 2025, 30 per cent of global wealth will be in women’s hands.

“From the business standpoint, as you can imagine, this [future wealth pool] is something we have to look into and understand,” she says. “Women are investing in art, they collect cars and have many, many interests. We want to be the first ones to understand what they really want from the car of the future.”

With climate change being a top-line area of concern for many, Bassi stresses that Lamborghini is doing a lot of work behind the scenes for the greater good.

In March this year, it converted part of its super sports car production facility in Sant’Agata Bolognese to produce surgical masks and protective plexiglass shields for use in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has also been proudly CO2 neutral since 2016, says Bassi, and its research and development investments extend beyond cars to other medical uses. Certain carbon fibre technologies, for example, are being developed to treat skin conditions.

In terms of day-to-day drives, connectivity has been identified among the FAB as crucial - because of the multi-tasking nature of women’s lives - and it therefore continues to be refined.

A car is also considered to be an extension of one’s home or office, which is why most women buyers make use of the Lamborghini’s Ad Personam division to deliver bespoke customisation.

Bassi says her goal with the FAB - along with changing perceptions of the brand - is to facilitate a world where future generations can do whatever they want - including driving a super sports car.

“Changing the perspective, this is the most important thing. You have to feel comfortable in your skin to buy or to drive a Lamborghini,” she says.

Utimately? “We would like the next generation to have an ideal life, let's put it in this way.”

Those who might be curious about the women who will help Lamborghini arrive at how to do that can tune in to a new podcast series called “Lamborghini FAB Talks”. The series provides access to eight members’ smarts and a glimpse into their glamorous lives, including a prominent Brazilian-based LA lawyer, a successful UK racing driver now in a wheelchair who’s also President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission, as well as a crime-fighting American mathematician.

There’s even an Australian in the mix - Sydney-based the creative director of jewellery brand House of K’Dor, Zena Kaddour.

The FAB Talks podcasts are available here and for download from all main podcast publishers.

* Australia contributed three cars to Lamborghini’s global September total, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the peak body for Australia’s automotive industry.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s not a bad result given it was just one car down on September last year in a market where COVID-19 strains were still taking their tolls. According to one local Lamborghini brand manager, the company's biggest problem is getting enough cars into Australia to fill demand.

Global production delays contributed to Australia’s 30th consecutive month of falling new car-sales in September, with just 21.8 per cent of cars shifted compared to the same time last year.

Not that that was apparent at the top end of the market. Lamborghini’s impressive global result reflects the experience of how other luxury marques are faring here generally where the biggest inhibitor to buying a European car has been the European holiday. With travel to Europe likely to be off the cards until at least 2022, Australians are spending big on new high-end sets of wheels.

FCAI figures reveal BMW sold 20 per cent more cars in September (812) than it did during the same month last year, Alfa Romeo was up 10 per cent (33 cars), Lotus 200 per cent (6), Maserati 100 per cent (20) and Porsche 27 per cent (85).