How MINI is ‘catching lightning’ to create customer loyalty

By AdNews | Sponsored
Alex McLean and Anders Sorman-Nilsson

In the fourth instalment of a Facebook series exploring a Zero Friction Future, global futurist Anders Sörman-Nilsson hears how MINI is building a post-purchase advocacy strategy by harnessing the emotional heritage of the brand

With the exception of property, and maybe that dream family holiday, a car is likely to be the most expensive (and treasured) purchase many people make in their lifetime.

It can also be a stressful experience. No-one wants to risk spending thousands of dollars only to realise they made a poorly informed decision. So for automotive brands attempting to win the hearts, minds – and wallets – of car buyers, providing a seamless customer experience has become essential.

For MINI, that has meant removing barriers such as lengthy form-filling on its website, looking beyond lead generation and building a legion of brand advocates to influence in-market shoppers.

In the fourth interview of Facebook’s Zero Friction Future series with global futurist Anders Sörman-Nilsson, MINI head of marketing for Australia and New Zealand, Alex McLean, admits the automotive industry can sometimes “forget about the importance of the experience”.

“We put things like form completions in the way, we put barriers of entry in the way. It’s important that we remember that we’re looking for someone to purchase a car, to enjoy that car, service that car and buy again,” he explains. “By having forms, we’re essentially getting in the way because of the need to see performance along the funnel and during the cycle.”

Creating a frictionless experience is particularly essential on its website, which remains MINI’s most important marketing channel. MINI data has shown that should a potential customer visit the site 10 times or more during a four-week period, they are 10 times more likely to purchase.

MINI research also indicates that the buying cycle has shortened dramatically in recent years, compressing from up to six months to barely a month.

“We define it as almost like catching lightning,” McLean says. “It’s so important consumers get the processes and user experience they are looking for.”

You can see more interviews from the Facebook Zero Friction Future series and explore other resources around removing friction from your business here.

But removing friction does not start and finish with the pre-purchase cycle. An Accenture study in 2018 found 87% of Australian automotive customers said they wanted some type of engagement with their car brand after their purchase.

MINI is also making strides in delivering an experience post-purchase, with the intention of recruiting brand loyalists and turning more customers into passionate advocates.

One way outlined by McLean involves customers receiving regular updates as their car progresses along the production line.

“Some MINIs are built to order and can take six months to be delivered,” he explains. “So we’ve established a communications stream where we update customers the moment their car reaches different points on that production process. We’re looking to have a better conversation with the customer post the commitment to purchase. We want to engage with them, excite and educate them.

“Cars today are computers on wheels. There is so much people aren’t aware of. To be able to tell a new owner that MINI Connected has the ability to call emergency services if it detects you’ve been in an accident is really comforting for some consumers. It’s something we’ve been developing, to prolong the relationship post purchase.”

Futurist Sörman-Nilsson compares the strategy to that of the “farm to table” journey where consumers are engaged not just in the finished product, but the “whole story”.

The idea, McLean adds, is to heighten anticipation for customers who are “pumped with their purchase” and want to “celebrate their commitment to the product”. So does this lead to online engagement?

“MINI is a rich brand, it’s an emotional brand. In terms of a social organic push by consumers, absolutely it’s there,” McLean says.

An extension of that communication, and to further spread the word on social channels, is MINI’s “welcome process” where new owners are invited to name their car and design a grill badge.

“Through a social call to action we enable them to share information,” McLean says. “It’s another way we have turned new owners into brand advocates as part of the post purchase brand advocacy strategy.”

Not that MINI has had too much trouble finding people who love their vehicles. During its 60-year history, hundreds of ‘MINI Clubs’ have sprung up around the world, amplified by Facebook Groups, which celebrate and champion the brand.

It is something McLean is keen to nurture.

“Our MINI tribe is so important for us,” he acknowledges. “We want to tap into that, be it rewarding MINI Clubs for holding their own events, providing them with lifestyle accessories or anything that can facilitate a meeting and have them advocating MINI as a brand.”

Sörman-Nilsson describes the growth of MINI Clubs – something he witnessed in the remoteness of the Nevada desert when “MINI after MINI after MINI drove by” – as “a real example of how communitarian MINI is in the analogue world.”

“The focus on not just getting the next sale, or generating a lead through a form, but by engaging with consumers and focusing on the post purchase is really futuristic and part of a zero friction future,” he says.

While describing MINI as a “brand for everyone”, McLean admits it is not mass volume. As such, MINI’s marketing needs to be targeted.

As part of an advertising strategy, and to ensure consumers are not being served irrelevant ads, MINI has examined psychographics and tapped audience-based information to develop creative content.

Using the example of a programmatic buy, McLean says it can dynamically alter the visualisation of creative to reflect a particular audience.

“The copy within that, and the call to action can actually drive through to the dealership within which that device has displayed that creative,” he explains.

Unsurprisingly, reaching consumers through social platforms has also become pivotal. McLean said MINI has distinct approaches for each platform, with Instagram and Facebook users targeted with personalised marketing messages.

“We know engagement within Instagram differs very much from what we see with Facebook,” he reveals. “With Instagram we focus on brand aesthetics and engagement. With Facebook we look at lead ads and other ad units. It allows us to be much more focused on that transition or transaction based consumer.”

You can see more interviews from the Facebook Zero Friction Future series and explore other resources around removing friction from your business here.


(1) “Auto Consumer Study” by Accenture (Facebook-commissioned online study of 1,007 respondents ages 18+, Australia, Jul 2018)


Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus