MINI currently makes the most trouble free small sporty car, ranks highest in class in sales satisfaction and is the 4th highest quality brand sold in America. Put another way, MINI in 2019 makes some of the most high quality and dependable cars on the market. So why are some current and previous owners so willing to walk away from the brand due to MINI quality? Put simply MINI’s second generations cars (2007 to 2013 approximately) have turned into maintenance nightmares for some owners. Add to that a first generation that, while loved by many, had a few niggling design issues of its own and you have brand that has a reputation problem.
Perhaps even worse it’s got a group of current and former owners that have anomisty for the brand or their local MINI service center.
Can MINI Quality Win Them Back?
From a product standpoint you might not like the size of the Countryman or various design elements, but you can’t argue with the dramatic improvement in quality. And it’s not just in one car they sell but has been proven across every model sold. So big is this shift that some dealers are hurting not from slow sales but from slow service departments. So how can MINI get the point across that new MINIs are better quality without alienating current or former owners of the R53 or R56?
Perception is hard to change but there are ways. For one the quality message needs to be in showrooms and in media. No MINI cannot advertise that “our cars now don’t have oil starvation issues!”. But they can start to pound the pavement with messages of quality and reliability backed up by data and even customer testimonials. The good news is that they’re beginning to do just that. Along with fun to drive and design being key in marketing, MINI USA is looking to bring the quality message to the market to combat some of these issues.
While that’s a good first step, making hints at improvements isn’t a bad thing either. Any body who has spent thousands of dollars to fix a car will have some animosity towards the brand or the dealer. And while MINI can’t outright apologize to previous owners who have had issues, they can and should subtly reference quality improvements as compared to MINIs past. Even a thinly veiled references to uneven quality of the past might feel cathartic to some of those previous or current owners.
Ultimately MINI has to win these customers back or find new ones. Either way we think the message of quality will be a key ingredient to the marketing equation moving forward.