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      01-13-2012, 01:54 PM   #190
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Drives: F87 M2C & E92 M3
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Location: Washington, DC

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Originally Posted by advantage20 View Post
I totally agree that too much watering down would damage the M brand and might deter true M buyers from remaining faithful to BMW, and that a fair deal of more modest budget buyers might be attracted to this new range not by automotive passion but by the status that M represents. But what if these M Performance models have serious arguments to back up their name (much more than the M Sport...) and become best in class models against their Audi S rivals? Wouldn't they deserve to be associated with the M label which today represents BMW's sporty essence?

But personally I would not be attracted by the upmarket status the M logo stands for but rather by the charisma this sub-brand has developped (an iconic letter, 3 emblematic colors, a sporty taste...) on top of outstanding performance. Driving an M Performance, personally I wouldn't at all pretend driving a high status close-to-M car (although we might argue that these cars' engineering proficiency and performance are way over average and are little Ms) but just a car which has some of 'that taste'. To me a fully Individual 550i has more 'status' than an ///M550d (but less charisma), but it's my personal perception, maybe others find gratification in M's status.

Incidentally, if more modest buyers seek status, how about real M drivers? Are they all automotive passionate enthusiasts? Here on the forum probably yes, but generally speaking I don't think so, more and more buyers (especially in emerging countries) are seeking precisely status and drive real M because they want to own 'the most expensive' version of such model and can afford it. Why would those buyers deserve this 'status' and the others not? Only because they can afford it while the others cannot? M has become a brand which multiplies its versions and evolves with its time (turbocharging, M SUVs...), so I think it isn't legitimate anymore to say "M equals high-end traditional supercars only", it simply isn't true anymore. Rather, M today equals "very sporty BMW" (not necessarily supercar level). I don't think that a handful of purist enthusiasts deserve to claim that their label remains 'greedily' exclusive since the brand itself diversifies, openly admits wanting to sell high volumes, 'sells out' its tradition and says "no dogmas". What counts most is that M keeps producing benchmark supercars, not that some lower range versions are associated with the M badge.

Lastly, if BMW can develop another attractive and charismatic label as is M, it would be great, but they don't seem to want to because marketing a new label and making it fruitful is a long and expensive process, while the M brand is already well established and they used the easy option. But if they succeed to create another attractive label (what is failed to), and I don't mean status-wise but purely attraction-wise (status will come after success, and success requires attractivity!), then I would gladly be a potential customer. Until then, I don't think many would go for a label like was is, as performant as it might be, as long as it lacks specificity (= too closely derived from the stock model) and charisma.
Advantage20 – nicely structured argument.

I understand that not all M buyers purchase for the exemplarily performance – and to tie to my earlier comparison – not all Harvard students attend for the quality of education or intellectual strength of their fellow students. To some folks, brands translate to status and those with financial and/or other means will always seek the most elite offerings.

As a motorsport enthusiast, I’ve historically looked to the perception-conscious to subsidize my purchase. They procure a portion of the M car production and, as such, absorb some of the R&D costs that dilute with volume until I can afford a great M car. In other words, if only performance minded people bought M3s, sales would drop to a level that would require less engineering expense in development or a much higher cost per unit. This financial consideration allows me to accept the soccer mom in the M5.

I’m an M evolutionist – meaning I subscribe to the idea that an iconic brand must evolve (turbos, dual clutch boxes, awd and even SAVs) – so I understand the profitability play associated with utilization of an established brand but that doesn’t imply that I agree with it.

I’d be a supporter if the decision makers at M gmbH reinvested all brand-related profit associated with the M badge vs. the IS badge on the new line of vehicles to building superior hardcore M models for the purists. I think that sounds like a fair exchange for brand dilution: I get a better M3 for my money and image-conscious John Doe can pretend he has a car built upon M heritage. I don’t see much divergence in that scenario from my M5 soccer mom anecdote.

My problem arises when the soccer mom buys an M550d instead of delivering the extra dollars to contribute to R&D at the M5 level. Cannibalization of the purist cars by those interested in the label in a watered down and cheaper package could produce a sad outcome for M enthusiasts.

From the less logical standpoint – I see way too many folks running beaters with M badges around my area. As a true M aficionado, it pains me in much the same way it would pain a Harvard alum to see the Veritas insignia applied to the local community college sweatshirt. I appreciate the price discrimination and the pride of M ownership – not to mention the solid re-sale values. Slapping the M badge on an ever increasing spectrum of performance steals some of the magic from the moniker – ///M becomes banal.
Appreciate 0