BMW Adding 'Product Genius’ to Dealerships
Luxury automaker revamping its retail approach, but only outside the U.S. for now.
Every Cadillac dealership will soon have its own “certified technology experts,” and Lexus is staffing each of its stores with a “vehicle technology specialist.” Now BMW has announced that it’s adding a Product Genius to its stores, offering further proof of how important technology has become to car buyers -- and how much luxury brands want to make sure that the gadgets in their vehicles are easy for their upscale customers to use.
“The objective here is to better support customers with in-depth product knowledge as well as enabling the customer to better utilize and configure products in accordance with their particular needs,” BMW said in a statement. It could have just said, "We're borrowing Apple’s Genius Bar concept." Like the Cadillac and Lexus car-tech gurus, the BMW staffers will carry an iPad -- though BMW phrased it thusly: “As the Product Genius needs to be mobile, he or she will be equipped with a state of the art Information Management System on a tablet device, allowing, for example, product configuration and in-depth explanation of features supported by visuals and films.”
But bummer for you if you can’t figure out your iDrive, since BMW didn’t say when U.S. dealerships will get their own Product Geniuses. The German automaker made the announcement as part of a larger event in Paris, where it unveiled the first new BMW Brand Store and a new look for its dealerships.
The inaugural BMW Brand Store opened in one of Paris’ most fashionable shopping districts and was designed by luxury retail architect Eric Carlson. BMW said it’s “reaching out to shoppers with the objective of allowing them to experience the brand in their chosen environment,” i.e., alongside other high-end boutiques.
BMW AG board member Ian Robertson said in a statement, “The world of retail has changed significantly -- customer behavior, needs and expectations have changed, as well as communication technology.” In other words, a cookie-cutter BMW dealership wedged between those of other automakers’ off the freeway won’t cut it, at least in other countries than the U.S., for now.
BMW is calling this new approach Future Retail, and the first markets planned for the roll-out of the concept, including the on-site Product Geniuses, include France, England, China and the Netherlands.
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