1-Series: Bridging BMW And MINI In More Ways Than You Think

1-series | March 1st, 2008 by 3

BMW is in the midst of letting loose a barrage of 1-Series marketing to current MINI owners and prospects… but is it just about moving …

BMW is in the midst of letting loose a barrage of 1-Series marketing to current MINI owners and prospects… but is it just about moving consumers up-market, or is there more to this strategy than meets the eye?

The fact that Jack Pitney (the Marketing VP behind the MINI launch in ’02) is now running BMW’s Marketing arm says a lot about the 1-Series’ potential as a booster shot for the entire Bimmer brand. What Pitney found when he took over duties at BMW in 2005 was that, according to their internal research, the brand’s identity had begun to slip back into that old 1980’s Wall Street yuppie stigma in the minds of luxury car buyers. A 2006 BusinessWeek article cites:

Pitney was distressed to find when he took over the brand last year after a successful run managing MINI USA. BMW's research shows that despite record sales in the U.S. last year, a shocking 75% of luxury buyers aren't even considering a Bimmer.

BusinessWeek

Regardless of the study’s accuracy, it obviously struck a chord with Pitney at the time. And yet, to find their demographics in shining armor, all one had to do over at BMW was to look down the hall towards the MINI division. The MINI customer base would fit the bill perfectly:

  • MINI owners are incredibly enthusiastic about their machines, and the act of driving itself
  • MINI owners cover a wide range of age and ethnic backgrounds, which has kept the brand floating above those stereotypes that the VW Beetle and Scion brands have fallen into
  • MINI owners are extremely loyal – few brands have such a high percentage of owners as advocates, and that’s always marketing gold

There was just one problem – most MINI customers either couldn’t or wouldn’t shell out $50k to scratch their itch for fine German motoring. So, how do you get those valuable buyers into the BMW pool?

Enter, 1-Series.

That’s right. BMW’s goal of moving MINI owners up-market is not simply to sell a few more units, but rather to reshape the general public’s attitude about the BMW brand itself. It is this combination of hip, affluent enthusiasts that the 1-Series brings to the model line, and the kind of customer BMW is banking on. If the 1-Series is successful in this endeavor, it will be an ironic instance of the child nurturing the mother.

Then again, if the strategy goes awry, there’s always a line of yuppies waiting to bail the Roundel out.

Article by Mitch Turck from blog.dealerdex.com 

  • chip0952

    Ok, I’ve had 3 minis, MCS 03, MCS05 Convertible and MCS07 Hardtop. Put down a $1k deposit for the new 1335. Crap deal related to “uptiering” to new one series. Have only had an additional 4 bmws through the same dealership.

    Aspirations aside from the folks at BMW, they will need to learn how to market and convince the nest step upwads.

  • John B.

    Mitch, good article, keep up the good work.

  • Ed

    BMWNA need a new 1-Series hatch to compliment the coupe/cabriolet in the US market. The existing 1 hatch is a flawed experience – cramped rear quarters, and trunk too small. Get your act together, Guys. Also, the 120d should be made immediately available – awesome drive!!

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