Mini Cooper was known to produce small, featherweight hatchback cars, which was incredibly famous all over the world. Their models used to fit into narrow and extremely tight spaces. However, at present, the Mini Coopers are relatively massive and much more expensive. It has drifted further away from its roots, and people are questioning the route the company chose to take. This situation has led to a decrease in the sales of the brand. BMW, its parent company, is now exploring different ways to boost their sales.
Transformation of Mini Coopers
Overall, the Mini Cooper had a bad year. Worldwide sales have dropped by 4.2%, only selling a little bit over 361,500 models in 2018. Specifically, in the US, there was a 7.3% decrease in sales. In December of 2018, the year-over-year drop in the country’s sales was about 40%. The decline in sales has alarmed the company to make some changes in their car model. After many discussions, Mini Cooper has decided to make its cars electric, thus making them relevant yet again.
Many older Mini Cooper drivers are very disappointed with the changes that engineers have made on its design. They say that the company has taken away what made it very special in the first place. However, Mini executives explained that there was a need to make changes and evolve to keep up with global safety and efficiency standards. So much of the older version of the car fell short of the current standards set by regulators.
Fortunately, the comments and feedback given by the public haven’t gone unheard. The company is not wholly disagreeing with the people. They are not canceling out the possibility of producing smaller Minis. Now, they are exploring the world of electric cars. To stay true to what they were supposed to be doing from the very beginning, they are planning to utilize electrification technology to making smaller cars.
The Mini Cooper has recently announced that they will start producing Mini Cooper-E in 2020. This concept is said to be an all-electric automobile, quite similar to the BMW i3. Mini clarified though that they will keep the British charm for their version. With this innovation, Mini is hoping to boost up their sales. Electric cars are beneficial not only to the customers but also to the environment. This statement would be an excellent selling point for customers and could attract more buyers. After the announcement, customers have initially expressed their delight, saying that it would be cool to see what the company has in plan for them.
With this development, a new problem arises for customers. Even without the electrification, Minis are relatively more expensive than their competition. How much more when the technology is incorporated? It is a premium car, and the company will have to make sure that it still looks like one for buyers to get their money’s worth. Industry experts do think that the company needs to create a more affordable model to compete with similar brands like Mazda 3. Having smaller cars mean that there are fewer competitors.
There were many Mini faithful who were dissatisfied with the new lineup consisting of various larger cars. They added the Clubman and Country Man Crossover in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Although this move had broadened their appeal, Mini faithful thought that their unique car has become just like any other car. They said that before the company introduced these models, you could quickly tell a Mini from a mile away. The fans weren’t necessarily against the idea of bigger cars, but they wished that Mini could maintain manufacturing a small Mini.
To regain the interest of the Mini faithful, the company plans on going back to the basics. They have hired Michael Peyton, who used to work with BMW motorcycles, Harley-Davidson and Ford, to lead the operations in Mini’s North and South America. Also, for their 60th anniversary, Mini Cooper is planning on returning to their racing roots. They have offered a special edition with British Racing Green IV that is not only appealing to the eyes but also is a nod to their heritage.
Mini Cooper has a cult-like fanbase. Drivers of these cars have made different clubs and organizations not only in the US but also in other countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka. In the US, there is currently 73 Mini Cooper owners’ club. In these clubs, Mini lovers meet up a few times in a month and go on cross country trips together from time to time. They do various activities like rallying, where they have a minimum of 20 cars joining, on the weekends. For the road trips, they drive up to 175 miles in a day. Some Mini dealerships sponsor such events by providing a breakfast buffet for the members.
In their rallies, it is common to follow themes. For example, in a recent one, they named it “Salty and Sweet” rally, where the members drove across Pennsylvania and stopped by restaurants and shops that sold either salty or sweet products. There are other events Mini owners can attend like the International Mini meet or “Takes the States” road trips. You could even help set Guinness World Records for the largest parade of Minis. People set the record in 2009, with 1,450 Minis stretching out to two miles. It happened in Crystal Palace Park with participants from around the UK and other places like the Netherlands.
Joining these clubs or groups is also a great way to socialize. You get to interact with people not only from the US but also from other countries in the world. One owner said that he had met people from the UK, New Zealand, Belgium, South America, and Greece because of Mini.
George Marsh, the 14th member of the Southern California Mini Maniacs, never imagined joining such a club until his friend urged him into doing so. Since then, he became the treasurer, vice president, and president of the said club. Ever since joining, Marsh has accumulated 130,000 miles on his Mini, with 95% of that accounting for club miles. He expressed how the club helped him make long-lasting friendships with co-owners.
In the past, when Minis first came out, they were most popular with the youth. Those from the younger generation were the ones who made the Morris Mini an icon in the 60s. Today, the situation is still the same. Many of the participants in events like “MINI Takes the States” are young people who are first-timers. Twenty- and thirty-year-olds are very active in such activities as they are looking for more experience. They value meeting new friends and people who share the same passions and interests. The company diligently takes feedback from these events to know what their current market needs and wants.
Last years “MINI Takes the States” was the first one in history to have two separate starting points. In the west coast, the rally started in Portland, Oregon, while the east coast started in Orlando, Florida. They did not choose to drive along interstates but opted to go on roads less traveled. The reason being that they could enjoy the more beautiful parts of the country on these routes. The two groups then met in Keystone, Colorado, after driving for a combined length of 5,030 miles. There were over 1,000 Mini Coopers that attended the event. Their presence in this small town doubled its total population. They planned this event not only to meet co-“Miniacs” but also to raise money for charity.
Because of their enormous fanbase, the company is attempting to sell Mini merchandise with their logo on it. Some examples of these items are beach tennis sets and even actual Go-Karts. People believe that it is a lifestyle brand. The reason why Mini is still around after 60 years is because of the loyalty and undying love from their customers. Mini focuses on satisfying these people to go another 60 years.
There is no doubt that Mini is currently undergoing struggles, but with the help of its cult-like following, they could survive and come out of it stronger than ever. All they have to do is listen carefully to what the people are asking and consider making changes accordingly.