Jun 01

The boomerang kid

Marketers of all stripes are interested in boomerangs. IMG_6394

In this case, I'm not talking about the Australian weapon but, rather, a term marketers use for consumers who, at an early stage in their lives, are loyal buyers of a particular product or service. Then, for reason or reasons unknown, they abandon their first love and move on to a competitor's model. Finally, like the prodigal son, they return to the fold and once again become a loyal buyer.

Over the years, I've abandoned various brands that no longer resonated with who I was or what I wanted. Brooks Brothers is one example. BMW is another. But, I'm pleased to say I've re-discovered both after lengthy affairs with other suitors.

I bought my first BMW right after landing a real PR job at Hill & Knowlton. The 318i replaced an ugly, if dependable, Toyota Corolla and announced to the world that I'd arrived (at least in my self-absorbed mind).

Unfortunately, my 318i was a real lemon. I had to replace the clutch twice and the air conditioning unit at least three times. Something always seemed to go wrong and servicing costs were ridiculously high. So, after three years, I bid auf wiedersehen to my first love and moved on to other models (an Acura Legend, a Mercedes 300S, a little Red Miata and, finally a British racing car green Jaguar). I really liked the Jag, but I began taking note of the BMW M3 convertible.

It stopped me in my tracks. The M3 had all the dash and verve of the Jag, but the convertible made it look much cooler. And, so, when the Jag lease came due, I wandered over to Circle BMW and took a spin. It was like re-connecting with a long lost love. Everything clicked. I was hooked. I'd boomeranged back to BMW.

That was six years ago. When the lease on my first BMW came due, I didn't think twice. I went right back to Circle BMW, told them my story and took a test drive in the new and improved 2010 M3. It may have taken a nanosecond to make up my mind.  

Nowadays, I routinely get lots of cool comments about my fire engine red M3. Some dude at the Middletown train station stopped me the other day and said, 'That car has to put a smile on your face every time you slip behind the wheel.” I laughed and nodded, because he was right. It does. As does the purr of the engine as I slip effortlessly from gear to gear. It's a beautiful thing.

I've boomeranged back to BMW and Brooks because somehow, some way, they've once become relevant to my wants and needs. And, that dear reader, is manna from heaven for those respective brands.

We represent quite a few consumer brands, and each and every one is trying to figure out the best and smartest ways to re-connect with buyers who fell in and out of love with them. Boomerangs are a big deal.

So, how about you? Have you re-discovered a car, appliance or fashion accessory that you discarded long ago but now find intrinsic to the brand of you? If so, let me know. And, let me know what brought you back to your first love. We marketers positively KILL for that sort of intelligence.