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BMW's Marketing Plan: Misguided or Spot On?

BMW’s 7 Series has a new look. It has a large kidney-shaped grill, even bigger than the 4 series. And people are hating it! Comments regarding the new look span from “a low budget ‘80s sci-fi movie” to slit-eyed Allegro with squirrel teeth.”

People are not thrilled. But says design head Adrian van Hooydonk "As a company, you have to keep moving. But the hardest thing to do is make changes while you are successful. If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode."

It is always difficult to know what to do when you are publicly criticized, as an individual or a company.

From a marketing and customer service perspective, listening to the customer and validating their feelings seems like a good move.

But that is not the route that BMW took.

They were quick to fire back, using the Millennial and Gen Z phrase “Ok Boomer.” This phrase is meant to be dismissive to the Baby Boomer generation. These generations are having a cultural and philosophical war. The Millennials and Gen Zers believe that the Baby Boomers are holding on too strongly to old and outdated values and systems. So BMW’s “Ok Boomer” response was an interesting choice.

This response is also interesting because Boomers are thought to have more spending power than the younger generations, so it would seem that they are ostracizing their market. But in fact, Millennials (born between 1980-2000) have the most spending power.

They make up the largest segment of the workforce and they are the most frequent users of social media. We also know Millennials are looking to spend their money with companies that match their values. They are more interested than other generations in seeing company CEOs speak out on issues they care about, and in buying products that display their political or social beliefs. Millennials also are more likely to boycott a brand they have bought from in the past if that company expresses a stance they disagree with.

BMW must have been aware of this when they responded to more criticism with a video stating “Did we somehow start to feel uncomfortable with the unknown? Or have we just stopped being open for anything new?”

These questions have been posed by younger generations for years when talking about social justice, politics and education. Change is what so many young people want, and it is what BMW unapologetically gave them.

We cannot be sure what was in the mind of those behind this campaign or these tweets, but it sure does appear to be an appeal to younger generations.

Also, BMW has a tried and true marketing strategy that includes 6 key points. Three of those key points speak directly to this latest marketing strategy:

Eager to Follow Content Marketing as a Flagship Marketing Strategy Ambassador a Proud Presenter of the Latest Technologies

Deep Knowledge About Who To Reach and How To Them.

It would seem that BMW’s marketing team knows exactly what they are doing!


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