Brands are increasingly looking for ways to reach new audiences through partnerships with other brands that share common values, ambitions and communities. Weaving product benefits into a natural, informed conversation will always be a key approach to an ‘authentic’ sales proposition.
The MINI brand has quite a challenge in the North American market where size matters — “as long as it’s big” is the common consumer mentality — and where the pressure on efficiency has been lessened by lower ‘gas’ prices. So, as part of an innovation programme led by the VP for MINI of the Americas, we identified a number of new initiatives MINI could action to drive greater sales volumes by engaging new customers with a brand generally not well understood: MINIs are not so small (anymore)!
Whilst looking to attract new prospects into the MINI world, we identified brands that had similar characteristics and ambitions — and, even more importantly, had a natural empathy. Rapha stood out as having all those coordinates and was also reassuringly expensive and high quality.
By introducing two iconic British brands, Interstate fired a passion for cycling and automotive to help MINI and Rapha collaborate and take on the States.
In the case of MINI, their metropolitan strategy targets key urban areas and markets in cities across North and South America, offering an experience with ‘more of what matters’. In parallel, Rapha has expanded its operation to North America in many of the same locations that MINI focuses on and with a remarkably similar customer profile.
An observation that American cities have some of the finest cycling opportunities in the world yet, all but the most committed cyclists (who make up the majority of the Rapha customer base) must be daunted by the distance to simply clear the ‘city limits’ and start the best section of their rides, led us to believe that urban motorists and rural cyclists could combine in a partnership of mutual benefit.
By introducing the mobility solution to the clubs, Rapha riders are supported by a fleet of vehicles that are not only tested on the Pro Tour as support vehicles but suit the Rapha brand to a tee with their fun-loving, tongue in cheek approach to building one of the world’s most iconic vehicles.
Developing the partnership strategy and creative applications around the notion of ‘Rapha + MINI: Drive to Ride’ enabled the two brands to develop a partnership that offers the discovery of real benefits to both communities.
The ‘Rapha + MINI’ experience allows members on a club ride from any North American Rapha clubhouse to experience race-like support provided by MINI Clubman John Cooper Works vehicles that are more familiar to the Tour de France as Pro-Tour team support vehicles but suit the Rapha brand just perfectly. Rapha brings MINI a blast of style and energy that draws attention to its iconic vehicle and demonstrates that the car is far from small and can happily accommodate four riders and four bikes.
Off the road, the two brands will collaborate in events, lifestyle apparel and signature products. All being well, a MINI will appear in branded livery offering a matching Rapha bike for the most adventurous drivers looking to ride in style.
We look forward to continuing our strategic support of MINI and Rapha in leveraging the partnership — and enjoying a ride in our liveried MINI Clubman JCWs in particular.