I like to think I’m some kind of petrol head. I like cars and at a superficial level know a bit about them. Well… brands, colours, interior options etc. But when it comes to torque and over steer – I have no idea. Nevertheless, cars are a passion of mine. You just need to check the web history on my Mac to illustrate this…Autotrader, WhatCar, Auto Express, Asian Babes… (maybe the last one is less relevant at this point).
Anyway, this weekend signified the departure of what once was my pride and joy – my Mini Cooper. Just over two years ago, I took delivery of the new new Mini after trading it in for my new old Mini. I loved her. Gorgeous red leather, heated seats, sun roof – beautiful. And at the time, still very cool. All I wanted to do was spend all my time with her, find out more about her and I when I looked at her from a distance, I was filled with a sense of ‘she’s my baby’ pride. Sound familiar?
However, two years on, the love seems to have diminished. The truth is, my Mini didn’t do much wrong. However, I wasn’t that fussed about looking at her and began looking around. This brings me to my point. Have you ever noticed the similarities between cars and girlfriends?
The minute I started looking around for new cars, my Mini just became like an annoyingly frustrating girlfriend. Little niggles (and their was suddenly lots) became big issues. I was ‘too busy’ so time together was cut short. And the ride just didn’t feel the same (sorry). At the same time, my head was turned. Like going to certain bars knowing the girl you fancy might be there, I was suddenly obsessed with certain car websites, magazines and online forums, just looking for my perfect match. It’s a real shame. I had some fun times with my Mini but we just grew apart. By my innate behaviour, I knew it was time to let go and move on.
And what does this have to do with marketing? Well, not a great deal. However, when I got my Mini she was cool and different, which matters a lot to a customer like me. There were other options around, but not a great deal. However, due to a ridiculous amount of brand extensions, product launches and excessive market supply, I’m sorry to say that Minis are just not as cool anymore. Don’t even get me started with the funeral-style Clubman. When a brand opts for this family-branding approach (think Heinz), one bad apple can reflect on the good ones. Furthermore, Mini in my opinion is being outdone by the competition. The Fiat 500, VW Scirocco and dare I say it an Alfa (Mitto) have all stolen a march on the cool-front.
All businesses (any size) have to keep evolving and making themselves relevant to their target customer. Mini marketing folk (ironically I have a friend that is one of these) will argue that I’m just not the target audience anymore – maybe this is true but it doesn’t hide the bigger problem.
Cars are a ‘big-ticket’ purchase and as a result people tend to have an emotional attachment to them. Sad, as it’s just a piece metal but very true with most people. You just have to ask any girl what the name of her car is to get an insight into how close people feel to their cars. Bet you it’s Robbie or Bertie.
And like most relationships, the once intense emotion eventually fades. For one fleeting moment as I left my Mini this weekend in the hands of its new owner, I was a little sad. Good times I thought.
Lucky for me, my new baby arrives this week. And as I’m married anyway, I get the best of both worlds…until my head is turned again.
Mini planning a coupe I hear…interesting. I never knew she had a fit older sister.