Mini News Evolving Mini takes aim at high-end brands

Discussion in 'MINI News and Articles' started by Nathan, Aug 11, 2015.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    Design, size, marketing revamped to move up

    [​IMG]

    Diana T. Kurylko
    Automotive News
    August 8, 2015 - 12:01 am ET

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Mini is changing its marketing and will pitch to the "executive personality" as products move upmarket, its North American chief says.

    "We have to evolve and see something new," which will include lighter colors and a different tone when the redesigned Clubman goes on sale in early January, said David Duncan, vice president of Mini of the Americas.

    Mini launched U.S. sales in 2002 after BMW AG's purchase of the British minicar brand.

    "If I am an uninformed consumer, I would think it is the same" as it was in 2002, Duncan said.

    Mini was positioned as a sporty, small-car brand with an irreverent attitude and quirky features -- such as door and window locks in the center console and a big speedometer in the center dashboard instead of behind the steering wheel.

    Mini was dinged repeatedly for some of those features and responded, Duncan said. With the redesign of the Cooper Hardtop and the launch of the Hardtop 4 Door, Mini moved the door/window controls to the windows, the speedometer to the left and the seat recliner from the front of the seat to the side. The interior was improved.

    The redesigned Clubman wagon due in January will go even further, with an exclusive interior and more premium features. With a 12-inch increase in length, the Clubman will be Mini's first compact and compete with vehicles such as the Volkswagen Golf -- and even the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3, Duncan said.

    "It marks a turning point," he said. "I do see us being cross-shopped across a luxury brand, in that we are actually a good value."


    A new look

    Marketing will have to reflect that upward positioning.

    "The look will change. We have used nighttime and images against a black background," Duncan said. "You will see it in a more natural environment and see daytime ads."

    Mini will emphasize premium touches and craftsmanship but will not entirely abandon fanciful ads.

    "That part should still be told, but it may depend on the character of the car," Duncan said.

    Along with the Cooper Hardtop and the Countryman, the Clubman will be among the four Mini "hero cars," volume models based on a BMW Group platform using BMW engines and components. The fourth hasn't been revealed but could be a sports car/roadster that takes styling cues from the sexy Superleggera concept.


    'Not boring'

    Mini's character hasn't changed in an important way -- the cars are still designed with sporty handling.

    "The driving dynamics of the cars are not boring," Duncan said. "There are already a lot of people that are attracted to Mini, but it doesn't fit their lifestyle and is seen as too small."

    Duncan says he is often asked how big a Mini can be. He wouldn't disclose whether the Countryman crossover will grow significantly when redesigned. The replacement Countryman is expected in late 2016.

    Mini's appeal from its launch in 1959 was maximizing space in a small car.

    "As long as we stay true to what we were in the beginning," Duncan said, "we do not need to be limited by size."

    Duncan also expects Mini's appeal to grow because of the extensive use of BMW components in redesigned models. Mini won't tout this in marketing, but "it helps in the marketplace," Duncan said. "I would not dissuade a dealer to do that."

    Duncan said Mini has recovered from last year's slump -- U.S. sales in 2014 fell 16 percent from a year earlier -- and he expects 2015 U.S. sales of about 66,500 cars.

    Mini's sales through July rose 18 percent to 35,451 vehicles.
     
  2. tWard

    tWard New Member

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    They keep getting bigger and BiGGer and BIGGER! I think they will soon just be called Coopers. There's an ass for every seat, I wish them well.
     
  3. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    The Columbus special edition could be called Cooper Stadium.... :D
     
  4. Gil-galad

    Gil-galad Club Coordinator

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    This direction seems to indicate so much internal confusion regarding brand strategy, it makes my head spin. It also seems to suggest that the "...sporty, small-car brand with an irreverent attitude and quirky features..." that made the early BMW MINI go viral and the catalyst for establishment of the community of hardcore enthusiasts are now considered negatives. To sell an increasing number of cars at the ongoing price point, the company apparently needs to redirect towards those with the disposable cash in their pockets.

    Take these two consecutive statements and try to make sense out of them:

    "Mini's appeal from its launch in 1959 was maximizing space in a small car."

    "As long as we stay true to what we were in the beginning," Duncan said, "we do not need to be limited by size."

    Say what?! :mad2:
     
  5. minimark

    minimark Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. cct1

    cct1 Well-Known Member
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    If that's the route they're going, they're putting luxury and comfort in front of performance. That's ok, but they're going after a totally different generation of MINI buyers. Maybe they'll through in the occasional GP as a nod to MINI's performance heritage, but the days of a relatively cheap. mod-friendly platform are gone. Individualization of the car, by BMW's design, now takes place in the factory instead of the aftermarket. Not for me, but they'll probably make gobs of money, and in the end that's what they're there for.
     
  7. Eric@Helix

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    ^This^.

    The article is a window into a strategy in disarray. One could hope that it's just poor articulation by Mr. Vice President of MINI of the Americas, but I doubt it.

    It's illuminating that MINI reacted to criticisms of the unique characteristics (central toggles, center speedo). Those criticisms probably came from the automotive press, who expected to see every control and gauge in the same place as every other car. Owners, on the other hand, cherished the uniqueness of the early cars.

    There is a precedent for this in SAAB. It was a brand with quirky, unique features with a loyal customer base. When GM acquired them, they responded to press criticisms and homogenized the car. Short-term bottom line performance was the strategy. A decade later SAAB is vapor.

    The long-term prognosis for MINI is weak if they really believe that a larger MINI, with a higher price tag, photographed during the day vs. night will produce and up-market winner.
     
  8. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    RIP SAAB :frown5:

    Get well soon MINI :fingerscrossed:
     
  9. FranticFreddy

    FranticFreddy Drive-N-Eat
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    I like quirky, I don't like normal. Put the window toggles back in the center stack and the speedo in the middle of the dash where it belongs. And leave everything else the ****** alone, Dam-it.
     
  10. cct1

    cct1 Well-Known Member
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    I don't think they're confused at all; I think they know exactly what they're doing. I think they're making a concerted effort to bring the car into the mainstream as much as possible, where the most buyers live. That's why "size doesn't matter" (in the MINI world that is).

    The first generation ideology wasn't sustainable financially, although it was great for those of us who got on board in the beginning when selling a bunch of cars wasn't the primary goal, but making something iconic and quirky, convenience be damned, was. Those days are gone for good.

    My totally biased prediction: First generation cars will be collectors items, and sought after in the future. Every generation following will be like Honda Civics (except less reliable)--a dime a dozen, nothing coveted 20 years from now.
     
  11. Eric@Helix

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    That would be the conventional wisdom when observing the products coming from MINI, but the quote in the OP paints a more specific, and confused strategy. Even if it were as simple as you suggest, MINI couldn't compete in that space: they're not good enough, big enough or focused enough. Over the years since they've homogenized their products, they have not significantly improved their sales, and have clearly lost market share in the small/premium car market. By adding models, they have propped up sales to justify their existence but haven't focused on what wins: brand identity. Instead of looking at SAAB as a cautionary tale, they looked at Porsche, and said "we can do that". Guess what? Nobody can do Porsche except Porsche.
     
  12. Z06_Pilot

    Z06_Pilot Well-Known Member
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    wow, Eric, you summed it up perfectly! Every time I get in my R56 JCW, I smile seeing that huge dinner plate speedo, the window switches on the center stack, the anti-ergonomic ventilation controls in the shape of the Mini logo, that huge, round tach, dead center where it should be, etc. The point is, the R53's and R56's screamed brand identity.

    And what they have done to the Clubman, oh the humanity. If I had garage space, there would be a 2013 JCW Clubman in there right now. Still the coolest Mini of the BMW era, IMO....
     
  13. rckrzy1

    rckrzy1 Member

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    I'm looking at a 2 door BMW to replace my clubman. I don't drive 4 doors since my kids are grown and I want a cool car, not a SEDAN.

     
  14. wmwny

    wmwny Well-Known Member

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    I guess that the "new" MINI as we know it will soon be relegated to the Classics. :frown2:
     
  15. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    Hypocrisy in verbiage at its finest.
     
  16. Friskie

    Friskie Well-Known Member

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    That picture - we had something like that several years ago. It was a Caprice station wagon, the biggest chunk of iron Detroit spit out except for their trucks. A great family transport but as exciting as Lawrence Welk.
     
  17. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    Lawrence Welk:lol::lol::lol: your dating yourself. The youngsters among us will have to use Google
    .
     
  18. yellowbritishrocket

    yellowbritishrocket New Member

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    fact is...MINI is living outside of their f***ing minds! seriously...when BMW said they would take more interest in the MINI marque...many thought...ok...same design with maybe a better engine and part quality...what they didnt expect was what happens when MINI engineers and designs do battle with the BMW bean counters...it started with the countryman and paceman...at first...the MINI ergo was there...then overtime things like window switches on the doors instead of in the center...and now with the F-tard...they have really gone off the deep end... instead of the simplistic control for the connected/nav that used to exist (joystick and two buttons)...they have taken the control straight from a iDrive and dropped it in...not even inline with the armrest but offset so you have to take your eyes off it...also with the myriad of buttons on it...why? because BMW bean counters...then the light controls... not even on the stalks anymore...why? because we have to be "different" soooo...they lifted the controls from another BMW and stuck them under the knee panel under the dash...it took me 5 minutes to figure out how to turn on the lights of a F56 loaner i have right now...

    confused is a understatement... ive long maintained this F series will be the crossroads for MINI...much in the same way every company that has owned the marque over the last 50+ years has faced... and when they stray too far afield from what was MINI/Mini's dna and what made it unique...they fail and have to sell the brand off because people stop buying them... and coupled with the fact they have had so many hiccups and a massive recall for missing crash safety equipment...
     
  19. Boxman

    Boxman New Member

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    Not particularly keen on the new design.. let alone the size.. I mean, it isn't called a MINI for nothing, right?
     
  20. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    So, are you still liking your Paceman Roger?
     

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