You have the drug, build the gateway

What does this colorful motorcycle have to do with emotions and reaching new markets?

Last year BMW announced a series of variant editions for its model The R nine T, they play on the emotional side of motorsports — heritage, memory, nostalgia — you know, things the Germans are famous for. They use an engine that is aircooled (hello VW and Porsche people, why arent more of you into motorcycles?), simple body parts, and the bikes handle well. Each variant is kind of a reboot of an old model era. Scrambler, cafe racer. “A blank canvas for customizing”. Sounds like the engineers are letting the artists drive.

The thing about emotions in marketing

When things get emotional, they get expensive. Weddings, Births, Funerals, Holidays. Things that memories are made of. These are all opportunities to charge a premium, and manipulate your emotions. You don’t buy a casket because it’s the optimal and precision-built option. You buy something regal or find an urn that pays respect. Just like you don’t go to Hawaii to think about excel sheets.

I think the bikes look great, and I think they’re important for the industry, but I think it’s leaving money on the table to just lean on these products to draw in long term new customers, not just pander to enthusiasts and fanatics willing to spend $12–15,000+, which is what they cost. It’s rare that people recommend buying new for a first bike.

So I think it’s a great thing they’re bringing a $5,000 beginner/urban commuter bike that is still very high quality and worthy of the BMW badge, the G310R and the G310Gs. But with a smaller engine than the r nine t.

$15k is cheap for a new car, but new isn’t the cheapest option. It is a lot for a motorcycle, that will get you a investment. But a new driver is different than a new rider. Cars keep themselves upright, don’t require much attention (just enough, which is still too much), etc. you don’t have to love driving to use it. In the US, people don’t really ride who aren’t into it, why would they take the steep risk and deal with the weather and gearing up other than cost and maybe reliability.

So, if you have a lifestyle brand all you do is embrace the passionate, you’re going to stunt your growth. If you appeal to people who haven’t heard of you and give them a low barrier, you’re setting them up for a great first impression, which leads to emotional responses, which leads to loyalty, which leads to being excited to see a model that is an homage to a bygone era.

Apple did this with schools and the iPod.