It all has to do with positioning. See, auto shows can be two things – they can be news events, or they can be consumer events. On the consumer side of the equation, we have the sprawling Chicago Auto Show, while both Geneva and Detroit lean heavily towards being a source of breaking news. Based on Mini's official statement, it looks like it was that positioning that led the brand to pass on two of the world's most important auto shows.
"The BMW Group confirms it has decided Mini will not be represented at the shows in Detroit and Geneva. This decision reflects Mini's new product and brand strategy, which was presented to the public on June 24, 2015," Mini USA spokesperson Mariella Kapsaskis told Autoblog in an official statement. "Part of the new brand strategy is focusing on selected auto shows and an increased engagement with events that increase MINI's access to other relevant target groups."
Max Muncey, PR manager for NAIAS, corroborated the statement from Mini.
"The North American International Auto Show is one of the few shows to carry the international moniker. As such, we focus on making news with global media outlets rather than serving as a consumer show," Muncey told Autoblog. "Mini's decision reflects this positioning."
According to Muncey, Detroit hosted 5,000 journalists last year, while its media coverage was roughly double that of LA, where Mini held the world debut for the new Convertible and the US debut for the Clubman last month. In our opinion, with both those debuts out of the way and not much else coming down the pipe in the near future, prioritizing auto shows based on consumer attendance rather than media attendance seems like a sound strategy.
Here's hoping Mini returns to the frigid wastes of Detroit for the 2017 installment of the North American International Auto Show.