Since the ’50s and ’60s, British automotive icon MINI has enjoyed cult status among car and rally enthusiasts around the world. After a 30-year absence, parent company BMW decided to relaunch MINI in the U.S., reinterpreting a classic brand while remaining true to its personality: fun, irreverent and timeless.
Among the biggest challenges MINI USA faced was the question of bringing the brand’s unique personality to life in a particularly visible exposure: the dealer environment. Partnering with Monigle, MINI set about adapting the European-designed retail concept to specific site conditions at new American dealerships.
The first step was translating MINI’s retail concept to 78 individual dealerships — of which no two were alike. This process included interior space planning, programming of highly visible interior and exterior signage, and design of experiential merchandising elements. The elements — which included plasma video, a CD rack and vehicle display pod — were not originally part of the U.S. retail concept.
The next step was communicating with each dealer to ensure their consensus behind the design, and assisting dealers in navigating Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), zoning and other requirements. It was imperative that each location meet MINI’s exact retail specification criteria, while creating an environmentally branded space where every element captured and expressed the MINI experience.
In order to easily track merchandising elements and brand assets, the MINI team used Monigle’s proprietary web-based SignChart® system, enabling streamlined approval and order processes while eliminating the need for wasteful “one-size-fits-all” retail kits.
The national rollout of the new MINI showrooms went off without a hitch: The majority of locations were installed in less than three weeks to meet quick launch deadlines. MINI’s uniquely branded environments perfectly paralleled the brand’s playful personality and ultimately enhanced the consumer’s buying experience.
MINI was relaunched in the U.S. to enthusiastic reviews, as evidenced by two-year waits for some models. Fifteen years following the brand’s relaunch, MINI dealers had fully embraced the unique retail concept and approach to the purchasing experience, selling more than 725,000 MINIs nationwide.
One of MINI’s greatest challenges was reimaging the automotive retail experience to reflect the brand’s unique personality, while maintaining consistency across locations.
Fifteen years after its American relaunch, MINI continued to enjoy steady sales and success — thanks in part to its inspiring dealership environment.
In its original iteration, MINI’s sales figures made it the most popular British car ever produced.
A year after relaunching in the U.S., the MINI Cooper/Cooper S was awarded Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.