Page 2: The UK market
During the 1970s, the sports car market was dominated by product offerings from MG and Triumph. As these classic cars were progressively withdrawn, this led to a sharp contraction in this sector.
The UK market was badly affected by recession, with the volume of cars reducing dramatically from 2.3 million in 1989 to 1.57 million in 1992. Today the market for cars is divided into segments providing different types of vehicles, which satisfy the needs of different types of customers. An understanding of market segmentation and the different parts of a market enables an organisation to identify market opportunities.
Across Europe, over this period, the Coupe, Hot Hatch and Sports Car markets had all shown tremendous growth and the successive launches of new vehicles such as the Mazda MX-5, Toyota MR2 and Honda CRX in the Sports Car segment had stimulated expansion of the sector. As these models had shown, there were clear opportunities for new sports cars with the impact of expanding the sector for open-top motoring.
The Rover Group has always held a desire to re-enter the true sports car market. The priority during the 1980s was to replace its mainstream product range and a programme to build a new sports car was just not possible. In 1989 research identified growth of the sports car market and investigations were begun.
In early 1991, the Rover Group Executive Committee gave approval to the concept. Shortly afterwards styling properties were researched amongst owners and potential owners of sports cars and at the same time the information was updated upon the value of the MG Marque. By the end of 1992, the research and engineering feasibility work had reached a stage where the project could now be recommended to the Rover Group Board for approval. Approval was granted and a team of experts assembled to bring MG back to life.
The MG brand had always represented a window of opportunity. In the eyes of the motoring consumer, MG was a marque in suspension waiting to be redefined. Although other sports cars had been praised by the press, they did not carry the MG badge, symbolising a niche which traditionally belonged to British manufacturers.
From the beginning it was realised that the market had become much more discerning than in the previous years of MG and consumers’ expectations of quality, refinement and comfort had risen. It was important to emphasise modern design and technology and by taking these forward, build upon the past in order to create modern virtues.
The introduction of the MGF enabled Rover to revitalise the MG Marque in its purest form with AN AFFORDABLE TWO SEATER SPORTS CAR. When potential customers were asked to define the MG of the future, they felt that the opportunity did exist to have the leading sports car brand. They referred to classic British Heritage and the emotional appeal of MG. New MGs should be modern in DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY and must be affordable both in terms of purchase price and running costs.
Rover Marque Values are developed and communicated throughout the Group. However, as with Land Rover products, customers differ from those of Rover Cars, so Marque Values for MG needed to be addressed separately. Following a process of research five Marque Values were developed:
- FUN ‘To drive an MGF is to experience the ultimate. It’s the time of your life and the pinnacle of your desire. It’s the most FUN you’ve ever had and it’s legal. Revel in rejecting the norm. Feel your heart beating faster.’
- ROMANCE ‘The ROMANCE, the desire. Memories of affection, of warmth, of respect. Remember the look, revel in the heritage and the beauty of line.’
- AGILITY ‘The AGILITY of the MGF is simply breathtaking. Taking the corners as if born to them, its lightweight handling and eager power are the mark of pure excellence.’
- OPENNESS ‘With its classless, straightforward appeal, the MGF personifies integrity. Approachable and honest, its OPENNESS cuts straight to the heart. With the wind in your hair you have found the reality.’
- AUDACITY ‘Be proud. Taste the adventure and assert yourself though the confidence and AUDACITY that is the MGF. Be part of the ‘wow’ factor, dare to be bold, dare to find the real you.’