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LAUNCHING THE BMW Z3 ROADSTER 1

3C Analysis and Positioning Validity


Prior to the launch of the Z3, BMWs past success was bound to its traditional of high quality
performance driven German manufactured automobiles in the luxury-performance segment of
the U.S. automotive market.

Its major point of difference among its competitors in the U.S.

and global market was the precision, quality, and luxury of owning a German manufactured car.
Yet during the mid to late 1980s, with the emergence of competitors such as Lexus, Acura, and
Infiniti that also offered high-performance vehicles, BMW needed to reposition itself as more
than just a luxury brand (at that point a yuppie status symbol) to a dual image of performance
and style (the birth of the Ultimate Driving Machine). And with a growing demographic of
both younger individuals (looking for an expression of status and social aspirations) and a midlife crisis individual looking for an expression of lifestyle and freedom in the United States,
BMW needed a rebranding goal that would enhance the mystique of BMW and capture this
new psychographic segmented target market.
The Z3 was the next step to improving BMWs position within the U.S. target segment while
maintaining its overall strategy as best-in-class with a unique and definitive positioning from
its competitors. From a 3C perspective:
1) Company Fit

Best fit with position of driving excitement and heritage roadster producer congruence of performance and style to distinguish itself as the best luxury sports
sedan company: the Ultimate Driving Machine

Niche market reflects corporate goal of being the best, not the biggest

2) Consumer Needs

Take advantage of declining motorcycle market but still consumer desire by


providing a product that elicits same emotions and fantasies of the free and open
road

Growing interest across life-stage defined segments seeking to express individuality


and take loving life mentality - mutual value added

3) Competitive Advantage

First mover advantage because no product yet available that fits consumer needs
and embodies the overall image BMW trying to project

Willingness to use nontraditional marketing as a differentiated, unique approach to


emphasize the uniqueness and individuality of both the product (car) and the
company (brand)

KENNETH MAO, Section 1

LAUNCHING THE BMW Z3 ROADSTER 2


BMWs major challenge was to convince its target audience that the production of this new
vehicle outside of Germany in the U.S. (major departure from tradition) would not result in a
deterioration of quality, but was in fact a demonstration of commitment to the U.S. market and
an attempt to establishing the franchise as a global leader in stylish, high performance vehicles.
Given the aforementioned goals and current market situation, BMWs psychographic defined
target segment of lover of life individuals was an effective fit with its message, overall
strategy, and marketing intent. The Z3 represents a unique, flashier product within the BMW
spectrum that still holds to the integrity of performance and quality associated with BMW
automobiles. It represents the ideal that style, performance, and fun can come in a single small
affordable package.

These are all elements that a lover of life individual across a wide

spectrum of demographics desires. For the men and women in their 40s looking for their
dream car that holds all the comforts and quality promises of a luxury car, the Z3 is their
escape from reality. For the Generation Xers that are seeking quality and style to enhance their
lifestyle and make a bold expression, the Z3 represents a unique statement of the image they
want to portray.

And even for the younger generation that perhaps saw BMW as too

traditional and serious for them, the Z3 represented a cool, technologically innovative and
reliable car.
Given BMWs strategic goals of 1) rejuvenating the brand (Made by BMW versus Made in
Germany image) 2) expanding the franchise (giving credence to its first American plant), and 3)
instilling an image of style, quality, and fun the Ultimate Driving Machine, BMW chose to
position the roadster as an integral everyday part of American life the Z3 roadster as a
cultural icon that everyone could identify with and be excited about. This fits with the lover of
life segment and a rejuvenation of the brand because of a palpable association with the
American dream.

And by making it the buzz of daily American conversation, BMW hoped to

leverage the enthusiasm of its core customers to stimulate further buzz in the market and add
credibility to its commitment of quality with its first ever American plant.
Non-Traditional Marketing Characteristics and Intent
The central elements of fantasy, uniqueness, style, and non-traditional with an emphasis on
establishing the roadster as a cultural icon worth talking about in America (taking the spotlight
off German made and putting it on BMW made) throughout all the different marketing

KENNETH MAO, Section 1

LAUNCHING THE BMW Z3 ROADSTER 3


platforms were consistent with BMWs intent on generating buzz and reviving their brand
image as more than quality and tradition but also style, performance, and innovation.
Certainly the appearance of the Z3 as James Bonds new car equally emphasized these four
elements. And even though the Z3 roadster appeared for a mere 1.5 minutes, the organic
placement of the automobile within the context of the movie storyline was more than enough
to firmly cement the new relationship between BMWs Z3 and James Bond. This was James
Bonds new car one that fit his needs as the tech-savvy, suave, living life on the edge hero.
This fit the unique image BMW wanted to project and would certainly generate buzz about the
product especially since Bond was making a 33 year departure from the Aston Martin. More
important than the amount of screen time was to take advantage of the mutual benefits both
MGM and BMW would receive in their strategic intent to revive both their images. The James
Bond franchise needed a facelift with a new hero and a new car, and BMW needed the revival
of the quintessential hero to add portent to their quintessential and unique new (but grounded
in tradition) product.
As for the other 6 marketing methods:

Placement in the Neiman Marcus Catalog promoted the product as unique and unusual
(its not often a department store catalog offers cars) yet woven into American culture
and everyday life conversation (Neiman Marcus and Christmas are two strong American
cultural images).

Working in conjunction with Apple on its new website and generating extra buzz
through technological innovative tools of building your own roadster increased hits on
the website four-fold and was consistent with being unique and non-traditional theme
(not to mention fun and creative)

The press launch in Central Park, the most prominent public park in the most well
known city in America (if not the planet), with a focus on detailing BMWs latest
invention (unique, non-traditional, stylish, innovative) also continued to help generate
extensive buzz and coverage.

Ties to pop culture through appearances in the Jay Leno Tonight Show and well-known
radio DJ programs also contributed to getting the brand into the conversational milieu
and reinforced BMWs positioning.

While it is difficult to assess whether the Go: An American Road Story video was
widely accessible or viewed by a large audience, its theme of celebrating life and the
road certainly fit with BMWs messaging and targeted audience.

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LAUNCHING THE BMW Z3 ROADSTER 4

Bold, fantastic, non-traditional messaging through traditional TV and print advertising


further projected BMWs new image of uniqueness and style

AIDA and Marketing Success Analysis


The aforementioned marketing elements in conjunction with the dealer promotions meant to
drive traffic and increase buzz about BMW general equally address the Desire and Action
components of the AIDA model. While it certainly can be argued that with a new product and
its intent on generating buzz, BMWs main goal was to increase awareness and knowledge of
the Z3 with its target audience (and core consumers) through its marketing mix. However,
BMW wanted most to leverage the hype to instill in customers the desire to pull the trigger
and buy a cultural icon (among its target segment). In fact, the marketing mix employed by
BMW ran the entire gamut of the model.
Placement in the movie, reinventing the website to allow customers to build their own
roadster, and positioning in American pop culture definitely were meant to raise awareness and
knowledge (in BMWs own words generate buzz). But in conjunction with emphasis on raising
dealer involvement and quality, and having dealers showcase the car with a private screening of
the new Double 007 film was meant to drive traffic to the dealerships to not only consider
buying the Z3, but also the other new cars BMW was rolling out with their existing lines. And
placement in the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog speaks to BMWs end goal of getting
customers to order the product.
The end result also lends credence to the argument that BMWs marketing emphasized the last
two components of the AIDA model as over 9,000 Z3 product orders were pre-booked by
December 1995 compared with the 5,000 projected (figure). Customers who became aware of
the Z3 through the movie placement went into dealerships looking for the car and were even
placing orders for the car sight unseen. Because BMWs goals of sustaining product excitement
(all of BMW) and increasing dealer quality were all met, it can be reasonably assumed with
measurable confidence that the Z3 launch was a success.
BMWs brand today continues to signal quality and reliability. The company has built a strong
relationship value with consumer and is trusted to deliver on future contingencies. Owning a
BMW continues to be an expression of status, lifestyle, and social aspirations.
continue to value the experience of owning an ultimate driving machine.

KENNETH MAO, Section 1

Consumers