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The perceptions of the BMW Mini brand

Vaibhav Gupta 12P172 Varun Gopal 12P174 Vignesh Patil 12P177 Mayur Kumar 12P216

Introduction : Mini
The Mini is among the most established brands in the car industry, and certainly the most successful British car in terms of volume sold. it also has an almost unique position in terms of its iconic status The brands success has lead to over five million units being sold The Mini was originally designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and launched in 1959 In 1969 the film The Italian Job came out which starred Michael Caine, and in which the Mini Cooper had a starring role. In the period of 1970-1979 the Minis success began to suffer seriously The Mini Cooper was re-launched in 1990, which helped to boost sales of the car, particularly in Japan In 1994 BMW acquired the Rover group, though they later sold off much of the group, BMW kept the Mini

Brand Perception
Aaker (1991) provides a comprehensive categorisation of brand associations, consisting of 11 categories:
1 product attributes; 2 intangibles; 3 customer benefits; 4 relative price; 5 use/application; 6 user/customer; 7 celebrity/person; 8 life-style/personality; 9 product class; 10 competitors; and 11 country/geography.

Kotlers (2000) highly influential model


The model suggests six levels of meaning to a brand: 1 attributes; 2 benefits functional and emotional; 3 values; 4 culture; 5 personality; and 6 user This model clearly combines many of the previously mentioned elements of a brand (such as attributes, user and benefits). The model also suggests that the consumer may associate the Mini brand with a culture and values, which are not highlighted in the preceding models This approach is further reinforced by Murphy (1990) who takes a Gestalt view: that consumers tend to perceive products from an overall perspective associating with the brand name all the attributes and satisfactions experienced by the purchase and use of the product

In depth interview
First stage : This first stage of research consisted of 12 exploratory interviews with opinion leaders. Second stage : This stage of the research was to collect information from a number of key stakeholder groups to the Mini brand.
ten new Mini owners; ten classic/old style Mini owners, who were also members of the Mini owners club; ten opinion leaders car enthusiasts working in the Motor trade; ten opinion formers racing drivers, car magazine editors; and three BMW Mini dealerships John Cooper garage and BMW Mini dealers.
. . . .

Findings
Table I identifies that the Minis brand image is described in terms of six primary components (displayed in Figure 1), which have been grouped into three categories in line with the themes identified during the interviews

Findings

As has been described in the preceding text key associations relating to the product (aesthetics and handling), as well as the brands history and heritage are key to perceptions of the brand. These perceptions have shaped both the brands image and personality

Findings

The results presented in Table III identify that the Minis personality was seen as quite unique and is made up of three key human characteristics and two personality traits by which the brand was described, as well as three demographic characteristics (displayed in Figure 3)

Findings
Interviewees were also questioned about their perceptions of the brands culture and values. The Mini brand and the producer of the Mini are seen to have a fun, modern and cool culture (Table V). it was clear that the majority of respondents did not perceive the brand or producer to any specific values (Table VI). The results presented in Table VIII clearly highlight the importance of the Minis image, respondents consistently rating the Minis image as equally or frequently more important than product quality (with an overall mean of 2.59 for image, compared to 2.04 for quality)

Findings

Based on the results of the research this would seem to be a middleaged female manager, who is good looking and out going, however, opinions were particularly split (Table IV). The results in Table VII identify that stakeholders saw the Mini as a particularly unique brand, and the factors used to describe the brands uniqueness clearly highlight the importance of the brands image, personality and Associations

Model of stakeholder perception

Conclusion
The results of this study have identified that the Minis distinct brand image is clearly key to its differentiation; this is supported by the literature on brand image This research highlights a number of important associations to the Mini brand, including product attributes, benefits, personality, users and celebrities, and these associations are identified in many elements of the literature This research has identified the importance of a number of historically based associations to the Minis symbolic image This study highlights the importance of the Minis British origins to perceptions of the brand. The research carried out for this study did not support the importance of a brands culture and values to stakeholders perceptions of this brand Based on these results marketing activities should be targeted at monitoring the changing perceptions of the Mini brand caused by these changes in ownership and product offering, and maintaining perceptions of the key elements of the brand image identified.