Mini News Interview: How The Mini USA Boss Keeps An Icon From Becoming A Fad

Discussion in 'MINI News and Articles' started by Nathan, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    At the risk of sounding like a list from a certain website, the 2000s seem like yesterday until you realize this year is just as close to 2030 as it is to 2000. For Mini, which relaunched in the U.S. in 2002, the days before American Idol are like three lifetimes ago.

    Many designs dubbed "revolutionary" or "eye-catching" have come and gone since the Mini's revival, yet the little car has not only transitioned beyond flavor of the week but into a whole range of products. Perhaps it was being in the right time at the right place, so how does a company sustain during less-right times?

    I sat down with Mini USA Vice President David Duncan earlier this month in Los Angeles. Duncan is in the unique position of being involved with the Mini USA launch back in the early 2000s and returned to Mini last year from BMW USA’s western region to be in charge of the whole operation for the Americas.

    We discussed where Mini is today, in which directions Mini plans to grow and how to banish "retro" from your vocabulary.

    Premium small car, original recipe....

    Full Article - Interview: How The Mini USA Boss Keeps An Icon From Becoming A Fad
     
  2. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    Too late it's been a fad for years already. :p
     
  3. B.A.D.

    B.A.D. Club Coordinator

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    It has always been a fad.
     
  4. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    #4 Firebro17, Jun 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
    Hmm. I guess I don't see it like that at all... It's nice to see a guy come to MINI that feels as strongly as he does about marketing and growing the brand.
     
  5. B.A.D.

    B.A.D. Club Coordinator

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    I totally agree about needing someone to care about marketing. MINI spent the first half of it's life without a focus on marketing because it was a unique design with little to no competition. Now it needs marketiing because it has loss that wow factor after being around for 13 years and it has some competition in it's segment (that are mostly less expensive).
     
  6. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    ^^^ I agree....
     
  7. Minidave

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    "He's counting on the fan base to stay loyal and find what they're looking for as needs change, but to appreciate the fact they're not becoming a German status symbol, either. Even if the cars have more BMW in them than ever before."

    See, this is where they lose me......I accepted the fact that a 4 door and Countryman were needed to keep the marque viable and grow sales....the problem comes in what's become of the original lineup - the Cooper and Cooper S hatch. Probably because they have to share a floor pan, now they've grown and grown where they didn't need to......and they don't still have the core values that drew people to the car in the first place. Lightweight, efficient packaging, nimble handling and so on.....they've tamped down the "fun factor" in favor of appealing to a larger market.

    I guess you can't have both....but as a part of the loyal fan base he mentions, I'm NOT finding what I'm looking for in MINI product anymore.

    The other side of this is that as they've become more BMW, they've also gone "upscale" in price, to the point where - like a BMW - the only MINI I can afford to buy now is a used one.
     
  8. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    ^^^ I agree with you completely. :yesnod:
     
  9. 00Mini

    00Mini Well-Known Member

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    Well written Minidave.
     
  10. Firebro17

    Firebro17 Dazed, but not Confused
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    For me, what's missing is the mystique and practicality that was Mini in the first place. Clearly the Issigonis design was a revolution in the auto world. Very simple and practical. Since that introduction, many auto manufacturers developed vehicles that provided formatible competition. But it was Mini that remained the most popular of the lot. When the new BMW MINI was introduced, they were re-engineering an iconic automobile that was no longer safety compliant, in order to make it so, with the intent of replacing a missing piece of history within the worldwide marketplace. Since the MINI was introduced, nearly 14 years ago now, the struggles to identify with an ever changing consumer demand for gadgetry and luxury in the compact and subcompact market has taken BMW down a path many of us don't care for. I understand what they're trying to accomplish with MINI in an attempt to reach the widest variety of consumer attention with the varied models, much like the original Mini product did. In many ways, they've done exactly that. Sadly though, as safety regulation requirements have changed, so has the MINI. The car is larger and less agile in many cases and there's not much we can do about that...

    Hopefully, the trend at MINI will be to revert to the continued development of a vehicle that is more along the lines of the original R Series cars and parent company BMW will recognize the value of separating the two Marques. Time will tell.
     
  11. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    I think we will hear less about the "Gokart" handling in future ads.... When other car companies are going with lighter weight almost wherever they can, MINI chose to switch back to steel on the rear suspension trailing arms..... In an area where low weight and nimbleness really counts....:confused:
     
  12. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    "Many designs dubbed "revolutionary" or "eye-catching" have come and gone since the Mini's revival, yet the little car has not only transitioned beyond flavor of the week but into a whole range of products."

    Um........maybe....... there is a reason you don't hear this any more. Could it be the direction the company has taken the brand?

    "My feeling at the time the job became available, this is really the best time to go to Mini, at a time when product is starting to come on board. We’re transitioning to a platform that’s shared with BMW, rather than using engines shared with other companies. That allows the product to become more premium. We consider ourselves a premium small car. I don’t see us playing in a mass-market space… there’s a uniqueness that comes with being a premium small car. We like to think in 2002 we invented that segment. We don’t want to leave that segment."

    "there’s a uniqueness that comes with being a premium small car" really? Not only have you left the segment you say you like, your on a supersonic jet running from it!

    "Despite the cars being frequently cross-shopped with the Toyota Prius, Duncan says fuel economy doesn't rank all that highly as a reason people buy a Mini – and he doesn't see that changing much. The fact they're small and efficient is secondary to the fun-to-drive angle, he said."

    Did you just hear what you said? So stop making it like every other car. I have an idea, How about a good add campaign and sales people that will sale the car because it is different.

    I could go on and on but I won't. I know you don't want to hear it.
    Here's the deal. I don't care if they make a Countrymen or the Pacemen (which I like) I don't care if they make a 4 door. But could you leave some of the uniqueness in all the models? And leave the Cooper and Cooper S as a unique small cars. Just those two. Thats all I ask. I am not talking about styling of the F56. I don't really like the looks of them but we have some members here that have them and are doing cool stuff with them. And they look good moded. Even Eric said he liked the F56 after driving it. I am sure it will be stinking fast with some mods. So I am not trying to bash the F56. I am bashing the decisions being made by BMW/MINI.
    Please don't tell me they need to sale cars I know that. I payed for my Mini even though I told them they should give it to me. :biggrin5:

    I will miss the coupe' and roadster
     
  13. LostDenverite

    LostDenverite New Member

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    It's already been said, and everyone here knows it. They're not looking to be unique, they're looking to be mainstream. If I wanted a car that was wide and long I wouldn't buy a MINI. If I wanted a car with 4-doors I'd buy a Honda. My current MINI will probably be my last MINI.
     
  14. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    Yes my last comment on the subject. I wasn't going to post but after I spent a day in a meeting listing to management double speak I read the article. It was double speed too!

    It was not meant to offend. Now back to fun mini stuff!
     
  15. B.A.D.

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    I went out last night to look at the worldwide numbers for MINI over the years and shockingly enough they keep getting better (with some expected blips with model change over).

    2002 - 144,119
    2003 - 172,323
    2004 - 172,576 (does not include December's numbers, which I couldn't find)
    2005 - 200,428
    2006 - 188,077
    2007 - 222,875
    2008 - 232,425
    2009 - 216,538
    2010 - 234,175
    2011 - 285,060
    2012 - 301,526
    2013 - 305,030
    2014 - 302,183

    All numbers pulled from the BMW Group site: BMW Group : Investor Relations : Corporate News : Current articles

    While the soul of the original new MINI may be fading away, I believe the numbers will continue to grow as the marketing increases (especially if there is a new budget MINI Minor that gets made in the next couple of years).
     
  16. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    I'm surprised that when China got the MINI there wouldn't have been a jump in the numbers...
     
  17. Zillon

    Zillon Well-Known Member

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    Funny thing is... for all the complaining I read, you'd think that MINIs are now the size of Ford Excursions. Truth is, the F56S is really not all that much bigger than the R53.

    Only place it's seen any significant growth is length (143.9" vs 151.9"), a nominal growth of 8", most of which is in the front, due to the new platform and protruding chin on the S models.

    Wheelbase has grown 1.1" (97.1" to 98.2"), width 1.5" (66.5" to 68"), and curb weight has only gone up 81 lbs (2679 to 2760).

    Yes, it carries a bit more visual mass. Yes it's a little chunky looking. But it's still a fantastic exercise in efficiency and use of space, it's still smaller than the vast majority of other cars on the road, and it's still fun to drive (although the clutch pedal is a bit flaccid). Also, the stock sport seats are fantastic, and the F56 is a lot safer than the R53.

    I hate change too. But without change, there's no progress, and without progress, we'd live in a pretty boring world.
     
  18. M1N1

    M1N1 Well-Known Member

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    Zillon. I agree (mostly) with the comments that you make about the sizing of the newer MINI's. It's not the size of the thing that bothers me so much as the styling. It is bulbous, and hideous (in the front especially). The front and rear look like some amateur has fitted a homemade body kit to it. The appeal of the Gen 1 MINI is probably because it looks as clean and simple as the classic Mini. Take a look at the new Golf. Front and rear are as clean and uncluttered as the MK 1 Golf.

    Everyone makes their own choices when buying a car, based on their own requirements, budget, taste, etc. And that's great if people think that the newer MINI is for them. It is just not for me based on the above comments.
     
  19. N2MINI

    N2MINI MINI of the Month

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    Those extra 8'' makes it right at the size of the original Clubman that was touted as BIG and can carry full size adults in the back seats... Now the Cooper is big and still can't carry full size adults in the back seat.. It's those 8'' everybody here wishes they'd take out of the Cooper. This is what the Clubman, Countryman, Paceman, were produced for..
     
  20. B.A.D.

    B.A.D. Club Coordinator

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    That's because they prefer the looks of the Lifan 320 to the F56?
     

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