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Mini tries to branch out beyond quirky compacts

Apr 04,2018
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Cho In-chul, director of brand management and sales at Mini Korea, speaks at a press conference in a cafe in Seongsu-dong, northern Seoul on Tuesday. [MINI KOREA]
Mini, BMW’s purveyor of microcars famous for their go-kart handling, is trying to broaden its identity to keep ahead of changing trends in the auto industry.

The company is expanding from cars to fashion and lifestyle products through partnerships with other brands.

“Mini is striving to become a brand that influences diverse aspects of urban living, including transportation and culture,” said Cho In-chul, the director of brand management and sales at Mini Korea. “In order to do this, we are planning to communicate with various groups and figures that represent and lead the spirit of contemporary times.”

In Korea, Mini collaborated with fashion brand Ordinary People to show off clothes at last month’s F/W Hera Seoul Fashion Week.

Mini also recently sponsored five Korean start-ups that promote efficient urban living in collaboration with global coworking giant WeWork.

“We are going to help these start-ups bring their ideas into reality for the next year,” Cho said.

In line with Mini’s push to improve urban living, it will bring its first fully electric car to Korea in 2020. It is a mass-produced version of an electric concept car the company unveiled at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.

“Electric cars are, in fact, very convenient especially in urban environments,” Cho said. “In that sense, I believe that Mini vehicles are quite suitable for electric powertrains.”

To more effectively market its new brand identity, Mini will continue to invest in its online lifestyle platform Dominick. It features a web magazine that covers travel, architecture and fashion, as well an automobile e-commerce platform.

Mini Korea sold 100 special edition cars over Dominick in just a week last month.

“We don’t have plans yet to sell other models on the Dominick platform yet. We are experimenting in e-commerce with cars at the moment, and the response from the Korean market has so far been positive,” Cho said.

Last year was a record-breaking year for Mini in Korea, as it sold 9,562 cars, a 10.8 percent jump from 2016.

This year, Mini plans to launch revamped versions of its three-door and five-door hatchbacks and convertible models and will introduce four more of its John Cooper Works models. The JCW three-door mini, JCW Clubman, JCW Countryman and JCW Convertible feature performance-tuned suspension and more powerful engines.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]