The concept car is a phenomena of the automobile industry. At the beginning of the auto show season, manufacturers will show prototype cars of the future, vehicles that illustrate their best ideas and excite people about the future of the company.
(Incidentally, there’s been an interesting trend, starting with the VW New Beetle, where manufacturers receive so much positive feedback to their concept cars that they immediately ready them for production. While this turns into an easy way to test new product ideas, it fails to inspire us quite the way the unfeasible-but-visionary concepts do.)
Transferring this idea to other industries is an interesting way to envision new products. Think of it as way to amplify the brand to see what happens. If a BMW concept car is even more BMW than BMW, then what is even more Nike than Nike? More Prada than Prada? More IKEA than IKEA?