As anyone who's ever bought or leased a car knows, beyond basic transportation there's always a list of optional extras – ABS, surround-sound, tinted windows, cruise control, coffee maker. You know, the usual. Wait, coffee maker? Have we mixed up categories? No, you read right, coffee makers.
Fiat, once known for the acronym Fix-It-Again-Tony, more recently known for Jennifer Lopez ads, has announced that its 500L model will be the first car in the world to come standard with a Lavazza espresso machine, making its debut in Italy before buzzing across Europe.
OK, cards on the table. Our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index covers the automotive category and we have lots of attributes, benefits, and values (including options), so usually we can accurately predict what percent-contribution a change to a car can make to engagement, as we did years ago with the 4th door on the minivan.
But in this case we don't include anything about coffee makers, so we're not exactly sure into which category engagement driver we might look to see how strategically leveragable caffeinating a car brand actually is. We can, however, comment as regards innovation, a critical category driver when it comes to engagement and loyalty. After all Italy is known for design and innovation and coffee. Wasn't it at an Italian café that Howard Schultz got the idea for Starbucks?
Anyway, here's the top-7 automotive brands when it comes to "innovation." After 7 they're all viewed in pretty much the same way.
As you can see, Fiat came up #5. Maybe it's that Italian heritage they've got working for them. And maybe Fiat felt that today's drivers needed more distractions while operating a couple tons of metal, plastic, rubber, and glass. Or maybe drivers needed something to keep them awake while sending text messages and reading emails.
Before anyone brews a tempest in a demitasse, you should know that Fiat says that the machine will only work when the vehicle is stopped. We're not sure about how desirable an in-car coffee machine is going to be for Italians who like their long leisurely lunches, usually on a sun-drenched piazza.
But Americans love innovation and eating and drinking on the go. Keep in mind that while we didn't invent the in-car coffee machine concept, we did invent the drive-thru.
Someone once defined the word "forever" as the time to takes to brew the first pot of coffee in the morning. Now, if you drive a Fiat, forever just got a lot shorter.