Fiat’s return to the United States has been preordained since the company took control of Chrysler in 2009. Yet the way it chose to enter the U.S. was far from certain, and its path speaks volumes about the perils and potential of creating new categories.
Fiat has launched through stand-alone dealerships emphasizing Italian style and built to handle substantial traffic, despite there being just one model available at first. It also has kept advertising minimal. In other words, it has inverted the traditional model of launching a new car. This heresy has earned the wrath of the industry press, which has attacked Fiat for slow initial sales. Yet the launch — while not ideally executed — follows a strategy that works in building new markets for the long-term. Read more in my piece for Harvard Business Review.
Story by Steve Wunker.