CASE 7: LAUNCHING THE BMW Z3 ROADSTER
Shift in Marketing Strategy
The introduction of the Z3 Roadster provided BMW’s marketing team the exciting opportunity, not only to promote a great new product, but to change their entire corporate image. The Z3 appealed to a new target market; and the marketing approach needed a shift from traditional to non-traditional.
Z3’s target market was defined in psychographic terms, as opposed to the more traditional demographic terms. Potential buyers included those who were interested in unique image statements, those who had always dreamed of owning a roadster, and those who desired to express their individuality. The target market included individuals within various life stage-defined segments. Reaching this market required a new and creative marketing strategy.
Strategically, the Z3 launch was vitally important. BMW had recently built a $600 M plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina – and needed to pay for it. BMW was challenged with creating a new “made in USA” image in order to target franchise expansion toward more youthful groups. Non-Traditional Marketing
BMW’s new strategy was a completely new marketing approach with new risks and new benefits; you could call it a paradigm shift. The biggest risk in non-traditional marketing is the loss of control. Unlike in traditional marketing, where the message is created by the marketing team, non-traditional marketing more heavily relies on word of mouth. The problem is that people say whatever they want. It’s far more difficult to control the message with a non-traditional marketing strategy.
Further, there’s no guarantee with non-traditional marketing. The car may or may not make it into the movie; Jay Leno may or may not say nice things about the car; the press may or may not pick up on the story. In comparison, if a company designs and purchases a print ad, it’s a guarantee.
On the upside, non-traditional marketing is less costly and creates messages that are more real, and perhaps more believable. There may be greater risk involved, but “leveraging the buzz” really works. While traditional marketing relies on repetition of a single message, non-traditional marketing creates a “choir” of messages. Combination of Strategies
Although the new marketing approach was successful in Phase 1, traditional marketing has its benefit too – primarily, control of the message. If BMW were to use non-traditional methods of advertising exclusively, their message could become distorted and fail to accurately project the intended image to the public.
At the other extreme, if the company uses only traditional means of advertising, they will do so at a considerable cost, yet have total control of their message. The media of broadcast could be whatever BMW is willing to pay for, be it television, radio, print, or roadside billboard.
The combination of both traditional and non-traditional marketing strategies enables BMW to get their message out through many different media channels. It also allows BMW to meld and/or morph the message into what BMW wants to stress. With this approach, customers are exposed to different forms of advertising, which appears to have a positive impact on sales. Successful Z3 Launch
According to BMW the Z3 launch was very successful. Could the company have done things differently and have been more successful? Probably. But their plan to launch the BMW was designed to cover several media types and resulted in exposing customers to the Z3 from various sources and venues. Several of these elements provided “hype and exposure” and resulted in greater orders for the vehicle, in excess of the firm’s expectations.
Introduction into the Neiman Marcus catalog in September 1994 was expected to generate 20 orders for the Z3. Within the first two days of the catalog’s announcement of the vehicle, 100 orders were placed and by Christmas, over 6,000 customer orders...