In this blog I want to discuss why the 999 was a huge failure for Ducati. I’m not surprised by the reaction of the market force (final Ducati owners, the ducatisti), but why i said that? Well, if you have interest about these matters, read my point of view and share your point of view too!
Who was Massimo Tamburini?
He was an Italian designer, but only the title of designer falls short, as in the best time of art, the Renaissance had Masters / Artists / Architects (Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Raphael …) then, Tamburini is the personification of the Renaissance for motorcycle lovers. Work for Cagiva, Ducati (the great 916), Bimota and MvAgusta (F4 and Brutale).
So you wonder … what was the problem?
No, not related design 999 with Massimo. Even the design of Terblanche isn’t related to the problem. (The creator of the 999) .. but, hey! who is this man? Another great Master but with a totally different style. South African designer maker beauties such as Ducati Multistrada, Ducati 999, Ducati Sport Classic, to name a few. If Massimo is Leonardo Da Vinci, definitely Pierre is Joan Miró.
The problem was a mixture of several simultaneous errors:
1) Poor market research to the final consumer (buyers of Ducati super sport bikes): The sales success of the line 916 are not related, 748, 996 and 998 with the new 999. The problem is not the artist. Solution? Make a limited production of this model, make it more exclusive, make a circulation of about 500 units of the same design 999, then, return to the 1098. These mistakes cost to the Italian factory about 41 million euros. (Now part of Audi group)
2) Making a intermediate futuristic designs for a final product having a steady clientele for purchase. This was not done. And it is why the manufactures MvAgusta never modified its classic design: The famous F4, also created by Tamburini, until this days, remain the same line. Fortunately, for 2006, Ducati presented at the EICMA Milan (November of that year), the famous 1098, returning to design 916.
The Ducati 999 was the first fully developed CAD / CAM, which was a great saving of time and money, as well as components. The 999 was 30% less than 916. In this blog I will not mention technical data of both models, for that readily get it on google; here we will continue deeper into the problem … Ducati buyer psychology.
3) Buyer psychology:
Habit and resistance to change, it’s just human nature. We found that unconsciously prefer symmetry, in everything we see: faces, objects, nature, wanting to associate. Unwittingly we associate the front fairing of the bike with a human face. The more symmetric a object is, will have better visual preference; if this will relate to the personality of the buyer Ducati, the disaster is easy to predict. Why? These perfect measurements are associated with personality, the most important aspect of this it is to find that perfect symmetry is related to an outgoing, intelligent and sociable personality. Ducati is characterized by a customer who purchases design above technical features. (Read: Hans Jürgen Eysenck, PhD, DSc / “Personality and Individual Differences”).
Words back, I mentioned that unconsciously we seek symmetry, also mention that seek to associate faces where there are none; This phenomenon is called Pareidolia: is a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something where none actually exists.
but … you may wonder, what has all this to do with a motorbike ?. In fact, everything. Unconsciously associate the front fairing of the bike with a human face. The line was horizontal symmetrical (Tamburini one..), the radical change Terblanche made, not impressed the most enthusiastic buyers of Ducati to vertical symmetry, having seen the legacy of 916; they simply felt not beautiful, not symmetrical.
In the above image, which of the three faces is for you more attractive? I think we all agree that the number one, right? It is because our brain perceives the perfect symmetry easier than the other two faces (2 and 3)
In fact, Bordi explains why the success of the Ducati 906 as: “The real explanation is based on the logo of the 906 is very symmetrical.” (This model was very controversial, or you love it or not, in the 80’s the people respond: It’s perfect.. others.. is horrible one. What you think? Image below.)
Oh! other name came up !, who is Massimo Bordi?. Well … this man is the Michelangelo of the world of motorcycles, he work together with Tamburini (another Massimo, by the way). Engineer in charge of developing the 4-valve desmodromic system for 851 and 916. You may wonder, 906 ?, Well … the truth behind this engine in this particular model is for the 6 gear shift. That is why they put the name “6″ at the end. It really is a 900 cc engine.