Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is Ford Asking the Right Question?

Ford is creating new innovative products and backing them up with strong marketing initiative's. However, I question whether this is the right move. Ford marches forward with it "Bold Moves" campaign, but sales are still lacking. "This month is terrible," Ford chief sales analyst George Pipas said in an interview. "We are not even close to where we expected to be in April."

Ford is doing a great job designing and building new vehicles. Just look at the new Ford Fusion and Ford Edge. Personally, I think those vehicles are dynamite. Furthermore, I feel my opinion is similar to others since I continue to see an increasing number of Fusion's and Edge's on the road. However, I'm confused as to why Ford can't get things turned in the right direction.

I can only think of a few reasons why Ford continues to plummet. Ford may be spending too much on a failing marketing campaign. Perhaps it is selling not selling enough of its high margin vehicles (i.e. Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition and Full-Size trucks) due to consumer concerns over rising gas prices. Finally, consumers continue to have negative perceptions regarding the quality of vehicles from domestic car manufacturers. Nonetheless, Ford may seriously need to rethink its strategy.

I am a huge proponent of Ford. I own a 2006 Ford Explorer and an 2007 Ford Focus. However, it needs to consider doing a few things differently. I have a few suggestions for Ford listed below.

1. Ford should stress the importance of quality. I don't see Ford doing a great job stressing the importance of making high quality vehicles in its current advertising. I know that Ford is making "Bold Moves," but I don't know what for. Ford really needs to prove that it builds better cars than its competitors. Ford should conduct study after study after study proving its quality is better. Also, it needs to get some good reviews from car review magazines and some help from customers passing along positive word-of-mouth.

2. Ford needs to stand for something, such as being an "Eco-friendly" company. Ford should continue to develop new technologies and partner with other car manufactures to build fuel efficient vehicles. Ford needs to be known as a company that builds high quality vehicles while being concerned about the environment.

3. Ford needs to find ways to bring back its core customer. How many previous Ford owners have switched to an import due to a bad experience? Ford needs to remind them what Ford stands for and what it has to offer now.

Overall, I like what I see with Ford's marketing. It is definitely an aggressive marketing campaign, but is it asking the right question? And while I like Ford's "Bold Moves," maybe it should be asking consumers "Have you driven a Ford...lately?"


Shoffy said...

Interesting post. I'd like to speak specifically to your point about remembering what Ford stands for.

I saw a comedian that was talking about Ford, Bruce Bruce, and he did an impression of a blue collar worked saying, "I drive a Ford, wouldn't drive nothin' but a Ford. F-O-R-D period."

Though I'm not a Ford buff, I believe Ford focused on these people (and continue to) in the past to sell their F-150 and delivered the goods. I still hear people talk about how great their F-150 is.

But today, all car companies have all kinds of different products. Cars, SUVs, Vans, and Trucks. It's as if a lot of car companies started to dilute their brand.

What do you think when you think Ford? They produce a large range of affordable and reliable vehicles.

What do you think when you think Chevy? They produce a large range of affordable and reliable vehicles.

Where is the differentiation. Not product wise... but brand wise. Instead of focusing on one or two traits... it seems everyone wants to get them all. We want to be quality, affordable, w/ great stylings. A great goal... but is it truly achievable?

MarketRMan said...

I'm not really sure if its acheivable when trying to reache the masses. High end car manufacturers (i.e. Ferrari and Porsche) have seem to found their niche. Also, low end car makers are doing nicely (i.e. Hyundai). However, car manufacturers trying to reach the masses run into trouble when they make multiple vehicles to appease the masses.