BMW has long been held in high regard by motorists, enthusiasts and the general public alike because it has made some of the most desirable cars on the market. The idea for many was that if you drive a BMW you have ‘made it’!
In recent year’s however BMW has tried to go more mainstream, and somewhere along the way critics, customers and enthusiasts feel they have lost what made them so appealing.
Recently I found myself thinking, have I found myself unknowingly losing interest in the brand? I know I have found myself envying the attention and support other manufacturers appear to give their enthusiasts (essentially brand ambassadors) but it was never something that really bothered me, I just accepted it, after all BMW’s primary aim at the end of the day is to sell new cars and chase those profit margins.
Maybe it’s a case with age one’s interests and tastes change?
But what led me to questioning all this was a conversation I recently had with an old friend.
I was back in London, a city I used to live and work in and decided to touch base with a friend I met through the BMW scene many years back.
This guy was the type you would describe as a true BMW enthusiast, the one who lives and breathes the brand. The perfect ambassador for the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ with an M3 for himself, a classic E30 325i sport in the garage for those summer months and his wives X5 for the school run and long trips!
So after arranging to meet at the iconic Ace Café in North London I made my way over on the trusty (or sometimes un-trusty) underground to see what his latest BMW of choice was and have a catch-up up!
Having arrived first I opted to wander around the car park seeing as there were a few tasty bikes and classics parked up. The Ace café usually brings out a good mix of motoring heritage for any petrol head.
Ten minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted what I initially thought was my friend, surely not I thought though as he was stepping out of a Jaguar F-Type? Okay, okay, this must be a rental or a loaner car or something else… And that’s when I was greeted with “how do you like my new motor”! (cue the “sells a BMW to buy a Jaguar” jokes)
Your what I said? Yeah I got rid of them all he says, no more BMW’s in the driveway!
Now to get rid of one car is one thing, but to replace the 3 he had with other brands must be the result of something serious!
So we get grabbed a coffee and I delved further into how one of the biggest BMW enthusiasts I knew no longer owns any.
“The icing on the cake was when I had bearings replaced within warranty he said, 2 months later and just out of 3 year warranty and the engine went bang.. and BMW essentially said tough…”
Fair enough I thought, that warrants a disgruntled customer but to replace all 3 cars?
“It was not only the principle of the issue” he said, but also “the wives X5 started having brake issues resulting in the car being in and out of the garage, the new cars just aren’t made the way the older one were and I just had enough”.
He had a valid argument, when you are handing over in excess of £100k+ on two cars you expect a reliable product and he felt BMW was no longer that.
One just has to look at the main social media accounts of BMW to see some very mixed reviews from its customers forming a similar opinion.
When I first got into the BMW scene it was almost a given that if you had a classic BMW for the weekend/summer driving then you would have a newer BMW as the weekly runabout. This was true for many including myself where I had an E30 and an E36. Having a non BMW as a “daily” was almost sacrilegious. Yet today many of the guys I know driving E30’s have non-BMW cars as daily’s.
Why is this? Why have so many opted for different brands? Is it the cost? Is it reliability? Is it just the desire for a change?
As one classic BMW enthusiast said to me “why would I buy a new 5 series for my commute when I can buy a superb for half the price and its more reliable and just as comfortable”… And he too has a valid point!
Recent reports showed that Luxury brands are complacently selling to their established customers while ignoring the next generation of millennial’s. While this may not be a concern to BMW now it may be in the next 5 years when those millennial’s start having more and more disposable income and the older generations, those who always bought a BMW no matter what, are no longer buying due to retirement, age etc…
The best defense for brands against haters, especially on social media, is to have a connected group of very passionate supporters or enthusiasts who will defend them.
If individuals take aim at a brand, such supporters are ready and waiting to defend that brand.
Treating your communities right during the good times can pay massive dividends when something bad occurs.
Start losing such supporters however and it will be very hard to regain them!
What’s your opinion?
Will you buy a BMW no matter what? As an enthusiast have you found yourself losing interest in the brand or indeed have you found the opposite where you a becoming more of an enthusiast and a loyal customer?
All in all some food for thought!