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Green Affluents: The Newest Market Segment

Futureproof brands are built on insights into future consumers. Turns out, the future of affluence exists today, and BMW is getting ready to pitch it.

My job is creating futureproof brands for clients. I believe those brands are built on sustainability, innovation, design, insight, and sociability. Among these attributes, insight has a special place. Get it right, and your brand lines up with what tomorrow’s consumers demand. Get it wrong, and you become the next Segway scooter.

I’ve often used BMW i, the new BMW sub-brand as an example of great futureproof insight. The division’s philosophy is about more than cool new cars like the BMW i3 and BMW i8 hybrids. Instead, the project is based on making mobility–not just driving–exciting in the future.

To this end, the company founded BMW i Ventures, a group that funds entrepreneurs (like ParkAtMyHouse) with groundbreaking ideas on getting around urban areas using all available transport–whether it’s the subway, a bike, or even walking.

The big insight here? With the rise of megacities, consumers will most likely drive less. But they’ll continue to search out exciting ways of getting around. By intersecting this need with BMW’s expertise in creating exciting transport, the car manufacturer is today cornering a market that to many other companies is still invisible. It’s futureproofing its brand.

A New Consumer

BMW i Brand Manager Uwe Dreher says that a surprising insight is guiding the carmaker. Dreher says that in the course of research the company conducted as part of the new sub-brand’s development process, the team discovered a group of affluent consumers–particularly in the San Francisco area–who were expressing their politics by driving seemingly downmarket cars. As Dreher said, “It seemed incongruous for someone to live in a $5 million home and drive a $35,000 Prius instead of a Porsche or Ferrari. But that’s what’s happening.”

It seemed incongruous for someone to live in a $5 million home and drive a $35,000 Prius instead of a Porsche or Ferrari. But that’s what’s happening.

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