Marketing in a downturn – Premium Brands

You can already see that premium brands are starting to adapt their campaigns for the new economic context.  As an example, look at this ad from BMW.  This is the online ad but it has run in press as well:


There are a couple of important things to note about this campaign.  First, it is a total-brand message which is totally divorced from the traditional “Joy” positioning (“Sheer Driving Pleasure”) of BMW.

Second, they are using a 3rd party endorsement as a basis for a rational campaign.  What other people say about you is MUCH more important than what you say about yourself!  And the campiagn is telling the potential buyer that the total ownership cost of a new BMW is “best in class.”  Clear inference:  might even be cheaper, all-up.

So why are they doing this?

It’s NOT because they are suddenly trying to appeal to a new low-budget market.  The people that will buy a BMW tomorrow will be (by and large) the same types as yesterday.  What’s changed is that they are starting to feel they ought to hold on to their money.  And most importantly, other people might frown on them if they buy a brand new car right now: “don’t you know there’s a recession on?”

So what BMW is doing is finding a rational reason (running costs) that might support someone’s decision to buy their marque.  So when the new buyer is stopped outside the pub, they can say “look, I was going to buy a Camry” (riiiight) “but when I looked at total ownership costs this 3-series just made sense.”

Expect to see this permission-key marketing happeining more and more in the next 12 months!

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