BMW’s U.S. sales have dropped dramatically in the past two years, even with their popular MINI Cooper brand. The vehicles haven’t changed, and with a stronger economy, more people are in a position to buy them, so the issue appears to be competition.
The brand lost their Global Luxury Sales crown to Mercedes-Benz last year, and up-and-comers like Tesla are also giving them a strong run for their money.
With that kind of competition, it’s no surprise that they are kicking off a U.S. creative agency review for their account.
What is surprising is that their marketing to date has been really innovative - begging the question: why hasn’t it worked? The BMW brand’s international Instagram channel has surpassed the ten million followers mark, making it the most successful automotive brand on Instagram. And their “MINI Takes the States” mass cross-country roadtrip event for MINI owners takes customer appreciation to a new level. Clearly, they’ve been trying to make their brand fun, relevant and social.
But they’re also missing a piece of the puzzle of what Luxury Car Consumers are really looking for.
This is an opportunity for an agency with deeper insights into BMW’s target market to stake their claim - and to give you a jumpstart on being that agency, we’ve done some digging of our own into:
The Millennial Luxury Car Consumer
“Aren’t Millennials a little young to be buying luxury cars?” you may well ask. As of 2015 (and the trend has only grown over the past two years), growth in luxury car sales has been increasingly coming from Millennials.
In our research, we found that Millennials who followed luxury car brands weren’t necessarily those who could afford them, so we used targeting optimization to select for more affluent Millennials.
The profile of affluent Millennials interested in luxury car brands revealed:
- • 79% men
- • Mostly living in urban areas
- • Without children
- • 55% single
- • Likely to work in banking and finance
- • Tend to be competitive
- • Are very aware of social status markers
But they’re not Neo-Yuppie, Christian-Bale-in-American-Psycho wannabes. These Millennials score highly in personality traits like inventiveness, curiosity and analytical skills. They’re open to new experiences, intellectually curious, original, creative, and sensitive to beauty. They want to explore new places and disrupt their routines.
Where the social-status-consciousness and curiosity converge is in their interest in technology. They are the first to try new gadgets, new games, new tech. And they want to impress others with their newly-acquired technology.
As luxury vehicles become more and more about technology, these Millennials are a receptive audience. But the vehicle they buy will have to be the kind of status-marker that also satisfies the need for the new and impressive.
BMW’s messaging isn’t there yet.
Mercedes Benz is.
The “Mercedes me” app effectively marries smartphone and vehicle with features like Remote Start and Lock/Unlock. It’s also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. The promise of new technology and better integration between car, phone, Amazon and Google sends a message that resonates with what Millennial consumers want.
Far more so than BWM’s holiday home page, where the value proposition is a tired discount on new models.
Yes, BMW has a ways to go - and if you’d like to help them get there, check out our latest Pitch Brief on BMW and the Millennial Luxury Car Consumers.