BMW Z3 is the first BMW car which is being manufactured in North America which has not been a very big market [roughly around 16%] for BMW because of the inability of the American customer to associate with a foreign brand. Therefore the sales and marketing approach of BMW Z3 will lay the foundations of the future of BMW brand in America. Their phase I was a success, and they had two months between the launch and the product availability to further ingrain their brand image in the hearts of the Americans. So how to strengthen their brand campaign for the coming two months was their main concern.
Brand symbol is an important aspect in the automobile industry as it is the brand image that drives the person to buy the automobile and defines the target market and therefore the revenues. This could be supported from the past: their shift in positioning from “yuppie status” to “Ultimate Driving Vehicle” led to a 18% increase in sales in one year.
For BMW Z3 brand they wanted to preserve their reputation for driving performance but reposition their cars as stylish and fun to drive so that they settle into the minds and hearts of the American public and the vehicle becomes a cultural icon.
With the plan of leveraging the excitement and enthusiasm of the customer base in a way that it will draw maximum attention and interest to the brand “non-traditional” marketing methods were chosen. These methods were more cost efficient because of the psychographic segmentation and delivered to a broader base which was the major intention of BMW. It was also different and unconventional which was what BMW wanted to associate with their unique brand.
All their various marketing campaigns which included release of “Golden Eye”, in which their car was featured as “Bond’s car”, screening in the “Tonight Show”, Central Park launch event, radio DJ program, Neiman Marcus Catalog Offer and the video were completed by November which were roaring success and helped in building the required brand image which were reinforced through the traditional media campaigning in December.
These campaigns were successful as they were able to generate favorable product reviews and they also resulted in 9000 pre-bookings much higher than the expected 5000.
As an asset a brand name has to be carefully managed so that its brand equity does not decrease. Therefore BMW will have to take up some brand building initiatives so that the brand name remains in the market. As they have got more than expected pre-orders which is going to strain their existing process there is no point in going for sales increasing marketing strategies. It should be related to customer satisfaction because if these customers become advocates for BMW Z3 they will be able to convince more prospects in their reference groups to become customers.
Through these customers BMW can also get data regarding the various cultural, personal, social and psychological factors that drove them to buy BMW Z3 on which they could base their second phase of brand building events.
So therefore in January their first initiatives should be to send survey forms and invites for an exclusive test run for the various customers who have placed orders. Then in the month of February have road shows throughout the country where the prospective buyers of the car will have a first hand feel of the car they are going to buy. This will help in building a market through customer referral and building a “pull” market for the car rather than a “push” market. Customers could also be given details of their car and the various facilities they get as a package along with the car so that can perceive a higher “customer delivered value” for their car.
In addition the people who attend the promotion shows could be given t-shirts with the logo “I have driven BMW 3Z” to further increase the brand awareness and strengthen the IInd phase of branding.
The car could also be taken out on long drives through the cities where there will be maximum visibility.
The above brand campaigns will not be able to generate any leads in the present but will help in bringing twin advantage of brand recall and improving customer rating of the brand.