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We recently joined a webinar with Jim Farley, Group Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service, to learn about how Ford listens to their customers. Ford has been doing a lot of listening since the auto industry downturn that hit hard in 2008, and it turns out that listening to consumers has been one of the company’s smartest moves.
Farley said he has been talking a lot about the health of Ford’s brand globally lately, but that “as a brand, one of the skills we don’t talk enough about is listening skills.”
The Ford VP noted that customers are savvier than ever thanks to online research; however, Farley highlighted that consumers are now experiencing many more layers when buying a new car. He believes that car shopping has become more complicated than ever. “It’s gotten to a tipping point,” said Farley, “The complexity is overwhelming to some customers.”
Fuel economy tops the must-have list
Ford, once known predominantly for its SUVs and trucks, has now become a leader in fuel efficient offerings. Farley noted that he hasn’t seen purchasing factors change as quickly as they have in recent years. “Now, fuel economy is the number one reasons for buying a car,” he said.
New technologies key to brand success
But for Ford’s lead marketer, technology is the sweet spot. “Whoever gets technology right in our industry will have an advantage as a brand,” said Farley.
If you look at the themes in the evening news, there are two big themes – technology and the economy. Think about how interested we are now in personal electronics and the trends. By the same token, customers are watching these two spaces like never before. And the really good brands are the ones really focusing on technology.
What’s happening outside the car and inside the car is converging, and that means those items are becoming more important to customers. And that’s a good thing for Ford because Farley believes his company is at the leading edge of integrating consumer-friendly technologies into their vehicles.