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With Caffe, Fiat shows Italian connections

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Hoping to get rid of the ‘Premier Padmini’ connection, Fiat has launched Fiat Caffe, a brand experience store in New Delhi. The store strives to strengthen the brand’s Italian connections in the Indian consumer’s mind.

The experience store while showcases the latest Fiat cars, it also houses a Lavazza Coffee bar and a cafe library. The latter stocks books and materials on Italian culture, Italian food and automobiles. Consumers can also buy some Fiat merchandise from this store. The café also has an event area, where live music is expected to be played on weekends.

The interiors of the cafe too boast of Italian décor. “With Fiat Caffe, we aim to promote our Italian heritage and the ‘real’ Fiat brand,” said Rajeev Kapoor, President & CEO, Fiat India Automobiles.

“The cafe gives us with an opportunity to hold an array of events – both car and lifestyle related – to demonstrate the Italian values and culture we share at Fiat,” he added.

The emphasis on the ‘Italian’ quotient goes to an extent of having a staff that is well equipped with the knowledge of Italian culture other than automobiles.

The company plans to open one more café in Pune, soon. Fiat has 10 such brand cafes around the globe.

But how does the Italian connection help brand Fiat? Experts feel that Fiat as a brand, is considered old by many Indian consumers as the Fiat’s ‘Premier Padmini’ connection is still strongly etched in their mind. In the past few years, Fiat has made efforts to get itself disassociated with the ‘Premier Padmini’ connection and has positioned itself as a youthful and passionate modern day brand. These efforts have been fruitful to a certain extent and its models like Fiat Punto and Fiat Linea have found an acceptance in the Indian market. But for many, brand Fiat still translates to ‘Premier Padmini’.

Commenting on Fiat’s strategy to launch experience cafes, Naresh Gupta, Head, Brand Strategy, iYogi, said, “Fiat has been facing a lot of issues on the service front, which has created a bad word-of-mouth for it amongst the consumers. Efforts like ‘Fiat Caffe’ are an exercise to counter those negative experiences too.”

According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Fiat’s car sales were down by 31 per cent (at 10,351 units) during the April-November period in 2011, as compared to the period in 2010. In another effort, Fiat is also ending its partnership Tata Motors, with which it has joint-branded showrooms and service outlets. Fiat aims to have its own dealerships by 2015.

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Abhinav Mohapatra

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