11 February 2022
Mercedes-Benz didn’t have an apparent and intelligent marketing strategy when they launched the 190 in December 1982.
By the 1970s, Mercedes-Benz decided it needed a new entry-level model to take on the BMW 3 Series and Audi 80. But rather than rush its launch and produce a cut-price car, Mercedes is said to have spent more than £600 million developing its W201, the Mercedes-Benz 190.
However, during the first six to eight months, something entirely unexpected happened; almost all production was base cars with the smallest engine, not one extra, not even a rearview mirror!
Now the cars could be bought by people who aspired to Mercedes, and now, finally, a Merc’ they could afford. At this point, Mercedes started to worry about their image. Instead of attracting their target audience, the aspiring young executive, they attracted people at retirement age.
Then, they had a brilliant but accidental marketing idea; they put a 2.3 Cosworth engine and fitted the body with a spoiler and side skirts. More than that, they encouraged some of the more serious body shop converters to supply aftermarket additions to enhance their ideal target profile.
At that time, Mercedes estimated that more than half the 190’s in Germany had some conversion; neatly putting the three-pointed star back to where it wanted to be.