In this paper, the Mercedes Benz and BMW are selected as the iconic brands. The rivalry between these two brands is historical and has been in existence for a long period now.
Community and Cultural Brand Approach
The term community has been used over the years to refer to several concepts. In its most common application, the term is often used to refer a geographic location that constitutes of people who share similar cultural and societal values. However, with respect to brand, the term community refers to non-geographical composition of a specialized group of people who are characterized by social relationships for admirers of a given brand. Such brand community has certain aspects for which they share such as consciousness, traditions and rituals as well as the sense of moral responsibility towards the brand. The commitment among the brand community member is such strong that it goes further and includes recruitment of other members into the community, and the support of other owners of the given brand (Muniz & Oguinn, 2001).
The existence of the typical geographical community is a straight forward occurrence; it is essentially brought about through migration of a group of people sharing similar characteristics such as language. Sometimes the occurrence may not even involve people of similar background but at least, once they live within a similar geographic location, they form a community. The question therefore is how the brand community arises. Muniz & Oguinn (2001) argues that the mechanisms of social identity are the underlying causes of brand community. The authors argue that the mechanism of social identity creates in-group identity and loyalty. The loyalty and the in-group identity on the other hand serve to strengthen the out-group differentiation in terms of comparison and contrast. The contrast and comparison finally creates conflict and rivalry. The simplification of the concept by the author about brand community is that in natural existence, human struggle with self-identity. Through the struggle, people begin to identify themselves with certain aspects within the society, for example class. Such identity leads to formation of subgroups within the larger society, and loyalty as well. The subdivisions and loyalty creates an out-group identity that is further subdivided through comparison and contrast. One group compares differently to the other, which consequently creates conflict and rivalry. The authors further argue that the society does not simply form around a given brand, they form around those that have positive image, sometimes rich history and high competition. Indeed this is characteristic of the brand community of Mercedes Benz and BMW. Certainly these are brands that all have positive image among the society. The brand culture on the other hand is defined by certain characteristics of given bran such as the brands history, myth, images, art and theatre among other historical aspects (Muniz & Oguinn, 2001).
How then does brand community manifest, or identify? According to (Ewing et al., 2013), contrary to the expectation of the brand community manifesting itself through its positive shared values and attitudes towards a particular brand, it occurs rather in form of ridicule, humor and epithets. Sometimes it may also manifest itself though hostility and malice.
(Gummerus et al., 2013) conducted a research study to examine the evidence of brand community. The research was conducted among selected households in Fairlawn. The results of the study revealed that the evidence of brand community were neither common nor rare. The common characteristics among the respondents however included self-identification with a particular brand. The aspect of social identity was manifested by the respondents' knowledge of other neighbors who were equally subscribers of a particular brand. At an interview conducted in a club, the researchers were able to identify more brand community members of Ford Bronco, McIntosh computers, and Saab Cars. The findings further reported that the brand community was more manifested through the consciousness of kind. This implies that as much as there was a conscience between the respondent and a given brand, the sense of commonness with respect to the brand was expressed more on individual-to-individual. This supports the theory that brand loyalty is characterized by self-conscience among the brand community. The study further established the existence of ritual and tradition practices of for the different brands examined in the study, which further confirmed the theory of brand community.
On the cultural aspect, not many studies exist; besides, the existing ones are more similar to the community brand except that the community brand has distinct and even verifiable characteristics. (Arvidsson, 2005) however writes of the cultural aspect of brand success. The author asserts that the public perception of truth, utility and beauty are significant determinants to the economic value of a good. The values and commitment to the ideals of a certain product determines more of its image and economic values. Such aspects are less of community than the culture. The context to which the public is used changes the whole situation. The public in this case can be referred to as more of the larger society, or a combination of several communities whose values and commitment towards a given brand are distinct and defines the brand's economic value.
Another important aspect that has enabled to shape the community and cultural brand is storytelling. (Hogstrom et al., 2015) argues that information is stored in human brain in the form of a story, as such; people are more likely to remember, retrieve, and compare a given story, with a personal experience. The author however asserts the importance of having indices in a story. These are aspects such as the decisions, conclusions, attitude, actions, locations and quandaries among others. Further stories that are intriguing, exciting, and interesting are more easily retrieved by the brain, and they contribute more to the person-to-person and person-to-brand relationship. To this far, it is logical to argue that the community and cultural brands are significantly shaped by the stories surrounding brands for which members have loyalties. Not everyone has been around during the development of a given brand, for example the Mercedes and BMW. It is however probable that most current user have had stories told of these brands, preferably exciting that have made them identify with the brand. It is important though, to note of the different ways by which a story is often told. Stories can be told physically, through the person-to-person interaction, stories are commonly told through books or written article, but currently, the most popular form of narration is the audio-visual. The stories about Mercedes and BMW have been narrated severally through the audio-visual media. Among the popular movies that have narrated the story of the Mercedes for example include: Mr. and Miss Smith, the Hangover and the American Gigolo (citation).As it is being argued by (citation), the whole story does not necessarily have to relate to a brand or a person, as long as the significant indices in the story are stored in the viewers, reader, or, listeners' mind, and can be easily retrieved or used in comparison with a different experience. The decision one could possibly reach after watching the Mr. and Miss Smith movie is that Mercedes Benz is strong, stable and fast; which indeed is in line with the narrative that the brand has been presented to the users over the years. The story of BMW has also been effectively told through a number of movies. Among such popular movies include the Transporter and Ronin. It is certainly not by default that these particular vehicles are chosen to be used in the movies. Indeed manifestation of the rivalry between the two brands is found in one of the episodes in the movie transporter; where a Mercedes Benz van chases the BMW car in which the star actor Johnson Startum is driving in. The BMW is presented as a fast and classy car, and the Mercedes Benz is presented as stable, such that it can jump over a flyover to the other side of the road with minimum damage to it, and even further, continue moving.
The concept of the perception derived from watching stories is explained by the concept of archetypal myth. (citation) argues that the process of watching, retrieving, and telling stories with or without the assistance of an instructor enables and individual to experience the archetypal myth. The author defines an archetype as an unconscious Primary perception, a prototype, or an original distinct pattern in the human mind which are not learned or acquired. Instead, they exist within human right from birth. Alternatively, they are defined as the unconscious forces that influence human's beliefs, behavior, and attitude either implicitly, or explicitly. Going by this argument, it is logical to argue that watching the movies that have either Mercedes Benz or BMW; the viewer is subjected to subconsciously develop choices between the two brands based on the indices that most appeal to him from the movies. To this extent, it is possible that even those who may not have been physically subjected to a given brand are more likely to develop an opinion about it based on the concept of the archetypal myth.
Rivalry and Brand Rivalry
Rivalry is certainly a common term that is used commonly to describe a relation between two, or more units - including, continents, teams, people, institution and much more. Most importantly however, for the current paper is the use of the term brand rivalry. The paper explores the rivalry between Mercedes and BMW. Certainly, these two brands have had rivalry for a long period now. However, before delving further into the issues of brand rivalry, it is important, from the outset, to define the meaning of rivalry. Rivalry in this paper is explored with respect to military, and business aspect. In the military context, brand rivalry is considered with respect to the conflict between states. An example is the rivalry between the USA and Russia (citation). However, in considering military rivalry, several aspects are included in the analysis. Among such factors include the duration of the rivalry. As (citation) puts it, rivalry, although has been traditionally been defined to be defined by periods of 10-15 years, or even more, it may sometimes be over an even smaller duration. The authors however asserts that one distinct feature that defines rivalry is the behavior of the parties involved in the rivalry, more than the duration, and even reason for rivalry itself. (Citation) asserts that for military rivalry to hold, it must have an influence in the past, present, and future actions of the parties involved. For the military concept to hold, the rivalry must have at least influenced the parties involved into certain actions - which include, but not limited to strategic allies, acquisition of weapons, and even spying on the other parties' activities. The duration, as much as is not a significant determinant of rivalry in this concept, it is an important determinant of the past maneuvers that have been made by either parties, their present, and anticipated future strategies.
Another distinguishing characteristic about rivalry is that it needs to endure. A rivalry needs to at least last for sometime before it becomes considered as one. Rivalry occurrence is however classified into three categories: sporadic and lastly enduring rivalry (citation). The first type only occurs randomly, and does not last for substantial length of time. The second type occurs over a relatively longer period, but does not grow to the extent of enduring rivalry. The last types are charactriesed by repeated and severe conflicts. Si...
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