Future of MBCA and changing designs - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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Future of MBCA and changing designs

One of our writers posted an interesting article on an issue that both the MBCA and Mercedes-Benz seems to be attempting to tackle recently, how to get younger members/buyers into the brand and maintain them. I've had similar discussions with folks at other forums, it seems clubs are having a hard time across the board. Will the new models coming out now and in the near future enough to get younger people into the brand, and by extrapolation, into the club?

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 12:32 PM
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it wont help the Houston Chapter of MBCA, they are a very inactive club.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 12:38 PM
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Just like with "Oil change 3000" - I would expect the process to take a generation to succeed.
Even when my oldest son was still in college - driving crappy Ford pickup and I offered him MB sedan - his answer was "Mercedes is for old people"
Still year later, when he come home and took his friend for 200 miles Saturday outing, he chose to borrow my 35mpg Mercedes, instead of driving his 15 mpg red Mitsubishi.
So the base is here, but imagine will take time to change.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 12:54 PM
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The CLA was a blockbuster launch for MBUSA and took the lead in the entry-level luxury segment. The median age of the CLA class buyer is 46 compared to 54 which means they are more or less successful at attracting younger generation of buyers - Mercedes calls CLA 'best launch in 20 years' as it warns dealers of tight supplies - Autoblog

Now the GLA might even stir things up one whole notch!
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 01:22 PM
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On the sad part, I heard almost the same words applied to Smarts about 15 years ago.
The words at the time also would give $8000 price tag for the vehicle.
How that turned out?
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 01:36 PM
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It takes car enthusiasts - especially ones who see a unique value in a marque - to build a local section (and by extension a national club). Many new Mercedes-Benz buyers don't seem to fit that description - especially those who lease their vehicles.

I've watched membership in the Greater Washington Section decline from almost 2000 to a little over 1100 over the past 15 years - this as MBUSA set new sales records. I've seen GWS go from an active section with lots of driving events to a more or less moribund section with few driving events and a focus on social events.

The older generation, many of whom were brand enthusiasts in every sense of the word, were the core of MBCA at both the local and national level. They were the leaders, but they are retiring/moving away/dying, in many cases without mentoring the next generation of leaders. Also anyone who's been involved in the club for more than 15 years can point to mistakes made at the national level in the '90s and early 2000s that turned off a large number of members. There is some hope - at the national level MBCA is trying to build brand recognition and market the club. New owners (and lessees) have different attitudes and expectations, and it's not clear what it will take to revitalize MBCA or if it is even possible. One thing's certain, whatever the current crop of leaders is able to do, MBCA will not be what it was even ten years ago.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 01:52 PM
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As for Mercedes-Benz, the push to increase sales by adding more models in an ever increasing number of niche markets has worked, but at the cost of diluting the brand. Mercedes-Benz is producing and selling ever more vehicles, but quality has suffered. In increasing the number of niche market products, and in the face of stiff competition, "das Beste oder Nichts" has suffered. As the owner of a W124, W211, and now W212 E class, I have seen a decline in the quality and overall feel of the E class - the W212 simply isn't up to the standard of earlier cars. The buying public doesn't buy into the Mercedes-Benz myth - all you need for proof is the rate of depreciation of a new Mercedes-Benz.

Frankly, my current E550 and SL55 may be the last Mercedes-Benz vehicles I buy.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 11:32 PM
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I don't think the models have anything to do with MBCA membership. As a club, the way they're operating now, they're doomed. Eventually all the folks involved are going to pass away and there's not enough new people to replace them because they're pushing away people.

I tried to get involved in their forums and a lot of their core problems showed there. I speak my mind and almost every post I made was edited or deleted. Most of the members are geriatric and like things the way they are and don't want "Young Bucks" throwing a monkey wrench into their old boys club. The editor of The Star magazine himself basically affirmed that it's a social club for retired folks
Originally Posted by editorgary
The demographic fact is that the current age group represented by our club - the baby boomers -- is the largest single 20-year cohort alive today, and we have only begun to enter retirement age, where there are spare hours, resources, and space to really get involved with a car club. The cohort that follows us is quite small by comparison, and they're knee-deep in child raising anyhow, with bicycles, strollers, and athletic equipment crowding the cars out of the garage, and offsprings' activities crowding car club activities off the weekend calendar. The next real growth opportunities are with the millenials, an age group just about the same size as the boomers, but they're only now entering the period in their lifetimes when they will begin to be able to buy and enjoy their own automobiles, and while there may be a few years of time in their single lives when they can enjoy a car-centered hobby, they too will soon be fully occupied by family and householder activities, and will be dropping away from active participation in club activities
You can negotiate a better deal than the $1500 rebate MBCA offers and you can get better parts prices online versus the dealer +10% discount from places like parts.com. The club is like a retirement home with planned activities, most of which are sit down dinners

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 11:46 PM
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I'm probably the youngest member in the Texas Hill Country Chapter; haven't actually been to a get-together yet, but there is a dinner on the 15th in Boerne that I may go to if my schedule allows.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-03-2014, 03:40 AM
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Pretty much all car clubs face the same issues. Look at the BMW CCA, for example. Even though the membership seems impressive, the numbers have gone down relative to the massive increase in the number of cars they've been selling (especially to relatively young buyers).

One major problem is that the two main things car clubs used to offer--namely, information and discounts--are readily available online. So, they're left with events. Clubs that focus on social events (e.g., wine & cheese, concours) will always attract an older crowd.

If you want to draw the younger crowd, you have to offer driving events like track days, auto cross, and driving tours. You also have to accept the fact that younger enthusiasts tend to modify their cars, so you can't shun folks with coilovers and giant wheels or whatever. A lot of the young guys will appreciate a vintage car in showroom condition, but the reverse generally does not seem to be the case.

It should go without saying that a club that fails to make itself attractive to younger generations of enthusiasts will eventually become extinct.
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