PANIC! There's panic at Mini these days, and it's not over ever-growing door count and exterior dimensions. It's over girls! Chinese girls who can't stop buying their cars!
See, Mini Coopers seem to be selling quite well in China at the moment, probably because they're great in congested cities and loads of fun to drive. But as Bloomberg reports, 80 percent of Mini's Chinese buyers are women, the highest level among any brand sold over there.
That has Mini execs freaking out!
"You don't want to tip into being a girlie car," Sean Green, head of Mini's China business, said in an interview in Beijing last week. "Not only do you alienate the men, you actually alienate a lot of women, because a lot of women won't want to buy a feminine brand."
You hear that? Mini doesn't want their tiny, cute, smiley-faced, brightly-colored hatchback to be a "girlie car!"
There are so many ways this is problematic. First of all, Green is clearly wrong about alienating women, since Mini sales were up 18 percent over the last five months, above the overall Chinese growth rate at 11 percent. Something must be working, right? And I don't know if this is true in China too, but in the U.S women buy most new cars sold.
Also, I hate when people call anything a "girlie car," because it's almost always used as a pejorative. "Throw like a girl," and all that. If you're a man, and you feel your masculinity is somehow threatened by the kind of car you have, you need to re-think what you think it means to be a man.
So now Mini wants to be "overtly masculine in some of the communication style," the story says, with pool tables in their Shanghai showroom and releasing a documentary about how the car traversed through Tibet and Mount Everest. (Because women can't do that? I dunno.)
This panic over gender seems silly to me, especially since the car is selling well. Maybe Mini can "fix" it by putting out a huge, Cummins-powered dualie Cooper truck with a stereo that only plays bro country and huge, vertical coal-rolling pipes straight from the factory.
After all, if anyone's good at coming up with new models that no one understands, it's Mini.