DETROIT -- As consumers look to buy high-quality cars for less money, Mini will benefit, says the brands general director, Wolfgang Armbrecht.
"People want top quality, but many want to go several steps back with their investment," Armbrecht said. "Mini benefits a lot from this trend."
Minis worldwide sales rose 4 percent last year to 233,000 units. But the small-car luxury brand, owned by Germanys BMW AG, saw sales drop in the final months of the year. Even so, Armbrecht said Mini sales outperformed its small-car segment.
In the United States, Mini sold 54,077 cars in 2008, up 28.6 percent from 2007 -- one of only two makes to post increased U.S. sales last year. Subaru was the other.
Armbrecht didnt make a sales prediction for 2009 but said he wanted to outsell the 2008 results. He added: The prerequisites are good.
With markets in turmoil and carmakers under pressure to cut costs, Armbrecht said Mini is concentrating its marketing in what it sees as high-impact areas. These are:
Advertising to raise brand awareness.
Positioning Mini as a conquest brand that takes car buyers away from other marques.
Enhancing brand loyalty so Mini owners stick with it when they buy a new car.