First BMW opened its first retail store, in Paris, last spring. And now, the brand is spreading itself around the world with a new licensing strategy that, for the first time, takes its marques outside the dealer channel with new products.
Now bearing the BMW imprimatur and logos are a variety of new licensed product lines that bring the automaker to a new range of lifestyle brand partners, including Maclaren baby strollers (coming in January) with four-wheel suspension and "ergonomic removable seat liner," Aspex sunglasses with 360-degree pivotable hinges, Group III travel accessories included BMW-branded luggage, and Ball Watch watches.
"This is something they've never really done before, but BMW decided that this [program] could really help build impressions and engage the customer," Jeff Lotman, CEO and founder of Los Angeles-based Global Icons, the brand-licensing agency working with BMW, told brandchannel.
Ford has become known lately for its varied and strong licensing program, Lotman said, and that helped inspire BMW to move beyond the realm of purely automotive-related licensed products and those sold only in dealerships. "This gives consumers the opportunity to experience real brand authenticity through BMW-lifestyle products," he said.
In China, BMW also is opening "lifestyle" stores that are standalone outlets in malls, separate from dealerships. Already there are about 40 such stores in that country, he said.
Many BMW-approved products will retain some kind of connection to attributes of the BMW vehicle brand, he said, such as "speed" (not a consideration for the Maclaren baby stroller, of course). What consumers worldwide won't see in this new wave of BMW-licensed merchandise, Lotman said, is food or cigarettes, even though there already is a Lamborghini cigarette. "There was a huge deal on the table for cigarettes in Korea," he said, "but that is something BMW just won't do." Ditto for the wrong kind of video game. "Those are big for all auto brands," Lotman said. "But BMW won't do games that destroy their cars or catch them on fire."
Maclaren, not to be confused with BMW's former Formula 1 co-driver Mclaren, may be the brand that needs the BMW logo and imprimatur the most. In July, the upscale stroller-maker agreed to settle product liability claims regarding fingers that were amputated by recalled and discontinued pre-2010 strollers.
The Global Icons press release describes Maclaren's BMW-branded stroller collection (already teased on the Maclaren homepage and Facebook page) as follows:
Maclaren is a premier parenting company whose revolutionary products align with BMW’s advanced engineering. Known worldwide for its light, convenient and safe baby buggies, Maclaren will launch a new line of exclusive strollers with 4-wheel suspension, original wheels (based on BMW production tooling), custom BMW interior-inspired ergonomic removable seat liner, and a contoured hood with BMW signature kidney-grille shaped windows. The collection will also include a coordinating accessory program and will reach stores this winter.
Beyond the sleek design, any stroller buyer is looking for safety, of course. The other BMW-licensed products, by the way, are described as follows:
Aspex: With Aspex, Global Icons secured the first eyewear agreement in the Americas for BMW. Consumers will recognize the distinct contouring of the frames as reflective of BMW’s dynamic automotive artistry. Each line features custom elements such as the TurboFlex™ Hinge Technology that pivots 360 degrees. The line will feature both men’s and women’s ophthalmic frames and sunglasses. The first deliveries are expected in early 2013 throughout North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
Group III: Group III is one of the world’s finest innovators in travel gear and accessories that showcase exceptional quality and superior performance – two hallmarks of the BMW brand. Created to compliment the enterprising lifestyle of BMW owners, the branded luggage will be manufactured with stylish and distinctive hardware (including custom zippers, wheel housings, and handles). The travel line, for professional and leisure travelers alike, will launch by Q4 2013.
Ball Watch: Ball Watch is the perfect accessory to the BMW program. With expert craftsmanship, this timepiece collection incorporates various technical feats, including the revolutionary and patented anti-shock system, Amortiser®. The Ball series of BMW watches previously debuted at BASELWORLD 2012 and will soon announce its first introduction to retail in select regions.