Should MINI Get Back To … Being Mini?

MINI | November 28th, 2014 by 8
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MINI sales have been down 5.3 percent this year. It’s no wonder that the British car maker is scrambling to find the best solution to …

MINI sales have been down 5.3 percent this year. It’s no wonder that the British car maker is scrambling to find the best solution to revive the brand and continue its success story. Even though MINI had strong sales in October, the upper management is hard at work to plan the future of the brand, which includes electric vehicles as well.

Currently, the carmaker has eight different models on sale and many believe it has diluted the brand and lost some of its most loyal fans.

A MINI fan has always fallen in love with the timeless and classic design, along with the unique go-kart driving experience, but we believe the bloated lineup has created half of MINI’s problems today.

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I’ve been to BMW Welt a few weeks ago, and beside the usual drooling over the BMW i8, everyone was focused on the various BMW models. First impression was that everyone was in awe with BMW’s latest models and you could feel the connection between consumers and the brand.

On the other hand, the MINI showroom was loud, filled with teenagers and random souvenirs like bags, cups and wallets,  branded with the British flag or MINI bold lettering. Instead of just focusing on promoting the cars, MINI stays true to promoting the brand as lifestyle, therefore attracting a different type of customer. Some conversations we’ve overhead revolved around the confusing direction the brand is heading towards and how the several niches have not paid off for MINI.

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Overall, it seems MINI does a great job at branding itself as a youth-oriented brand, fun and hip, but is that enough to help the company grow? Are the eight models making things even more confusing? This is where it gets interesting.

To many, MINI is a Mini – notice the old branding which didn’t have all capital letters and they go back as far as the Mark I and III era. The Mini is a small 3-door vehicle with 100+ horsepower engine that can tackle the bends with ease and can be parked pretty much anywhere. Small, nimble and fast would be the best way to describe the perfect Mini. It’s not a coupe nor a convertible or a family crossover, and it certainly isn’t an off roader. All of those models were a huge bet for BMW and only one really paid off: MINI Countryman Crossover.

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With that in mind, here are the four things MINI could do to to increase market share, attract new customers while still cater to its extremely loyal following:

  1. Reduce the lineup to three-four models: 3-door hatch, Convertible, Clubman and Countryman (there are already planning on doing this)
  2. Add a MINI-E option: following trends is important and we can see an all-electric MINI being a great contender in the electric vehicles market.
  3. While maintaining the classic MINI design cues, the design team needs to look into the future and take a chance. MINI Superleggera Concept is a great start.
  4. Create a MINI racing series. Sold at $50 000 pricing point, the race-oriented MINIs would allow many young individuals to take part in some exciting motoring events. A roll-cage, fire extinguisher combined with improved suspension, wheels and tires, stripped out interior, but still road legal versions would be one interesting way to spend your time.

The next few years are critical for the brand, but the current MINI design team is one of the most talented in the industry, so the hopes are high. At the helm, we have Anders Warming, former head of exterior design at BMW. His lieutenant is Christopher Weil, one of the most talented designers at BMW Group. His portfolio includes the BMW 328 Hommage, F30 3 Series, 5 Series GT, current 7 Series and 4 Series. The latest addition to the team is Florian Nissl, the young designer responsible for drawing the new M3 and M4.

With a talented designing team in place and great product managers, the MINI brand can reinvent itself and once again be the golden goose for BMW.

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