Unfortunately, we don’t have the details of MINI’s strategy in that regard, but words from Peter Schwarzenbauer – left on this picture and BMW AG Board Member – reported yesterday by Automotive News revealed interesting facts about the future of our favorite brand. While the Five Superhero Cars plan isn’t news to avid MotoringFile readers, we have yet to find out what exactly those five cars will be. However, these new tidbits can help us make an educated guess and they seem to indicate that an all-electric MINI might be part of the pack.
The Five Superhero Cars strategy originated from MINI’s desire to have a more focused lineup with the FXX series with the hope of reducing cost and complexity while refining the brand’s value proposition and sustaining its growth. It is also in response to new competition in areas where MINI previously stood alone, as Schwarzenbauer puts it.
The purpose of this strategy is very clear, but what about the five cars? Well, MINI’s Justice League or MINI’s Avengers (we love both DC and Marvel fans here at MotoringFile) already includes the following:
- Superhero Hatch with all its variants, including the two-door (F56), the four-door (F55) and the cabrio (F57)
- Superhero Clubman (F54)
- Superhero Countryman (F60) with its two-door Paceman variant (F61)
This list leaves two open spots and Mr. Schwarzenbauer hints that an all-electric Superlegerra might be superhero #4. In addition, we suppose the Rocketman would make a worthy #5. And for those of you who believe MINI would release a sedan a la BMW 6 and 4 Series Grand Coupe, my approach would classify this model as a Hatch variant. But let’s go back the Superlegerra.
The Halo Effect
We all want this magnificent piece of design to become reality, and given what the MINI Chief said today, it might be well on its way to hit showrooms in the near future. Although this quote from Automotive News reads like something BMW PR would refute by the end of this week, let’s assume for the purpose of this post that the Superlegerra has been vetted for production.
Does it actually make sense for MINI to release a somewhat exlusive car given the relative sucess of recent niche vehicles? We think it might, as this model could have a halo effect on the rest of the brand, similar to what BMW is achieving with the highly coveted i8.
In absolute terms:
The potential for a manufacturer’s increase in demand due to the introduction of a halo model lies with the halo model’s potential to change that firm’s brand perception through a “brand halo”. When a “brand halo” exists, a consumer evaluates a good based on the level of some attribute generally associated with the brand, disregarding in part the actual level of the attribute present in the specific model being evaluated. If a halo model is introduced into the market, is able to change brand perception, and all other variables are held constant, then a shift in demand should follow that change in brand perception.
I’ll admit that the i8 and the Superleggera are somehow extreme examples to explain the halo effect on BMW and MINI sales respectively. The connection between admiration for an i8 passing by and purchase of a “regular” BMW is not necessarily obvious to anyone. However, when looking at how M and JCW cars have driven sales of performance packages and accessories, it is easy to understand that the halo effect has been at work for quite some time across the BMW Group, and that respective BMW and MINI Product Teams have been quite savvy at using it. All in all, while the Superleggera would be a niche and limited-in-supply vehicle, it could have a number of positive repercussion on the rest of the MINI range.
I am just left with one question; going back the five superhero cars, and unless my assumptions are completely wrong, I still see seven to eight different cars making the FXX series which is similar to what we have in the 2nd gen RXX series. So I’m not sure how this validates MINI’s strategy. What do you think?