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BMW's Marketing Shift

1. What factors underlie BMW's desire to shift to a non-traditional marketing venue for the Z3 launch? BMW needed a big hit during this new product launch in order to achieve the economies of scale that would make its investment in the manufacturing facility it had built in Spartanburg, South Carolina profitable. Another reason to shift to a non-traditional marketing program is that the senior management of BMW always viewed the Z3 Roadster as a unique. The goal of BMW in introducing this product was to capture the feeling, emotions and fantasies associated with driving a high powered motorcycle. With that type of emotional imagery in mind, BMW recognized that it could not rely on traditional advertising to generate the feelings and the enthusiasm necessary to convince buyers that acquiring a Z3 was their way of living the fantasy life of James Bond.

2. Do you agree with McDowell that the Z3 launch qualifies as a "paradigm shift" in marketing for BMW? Yes, I believe that the Z3 launch would qualify as a paradigm shift if we accept as a working definition that a paradigm shift involves reconsideration of a business or economic strategy caused by a startling and unexpected outcome or event. For decades, BMW had been promoting a variety of features of its cars including their European design, reputation for reliability and for driver and passenger safety. BMW also focused on the style and the performance of its cars, but the focus tended to be on attracting older and more affluent drivers to consider purchasing a BMW both as a status symbol and as a reliable and fun car to drive.

The Z3 launch was not focused as heavily on the wealthy middle aged male buyer. BMW made a deliberate decision to focus on a broader range of potential customers including the so-called Generation X population of well educated and relatively affluent males. The paradigm shift continued when BMW found the proper marketing plan that would be capable o...

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