Business Insider recognized Ford Motor Company as one of the world’s top-ten “hottest brands.” Ford’s peers in this ranking include Google, Kindle and YouTube. Tellingly, no other car company made this list. This branding success has helped Ford to sell 2+ million Ford-branded vehicles in the U.S. for the second year in a row.
For the first time, Ford has published the market research upon which they are crafting this brand leadership success. Their view for winning brand leadership is based upon this analysis:
The social contract as we know it has been broken; mistrust of corporations, governments and media is rampant. Weary of misinformation, people are reappraising their relationships with companies and brands, making integrity a new
form of competitive advantage.
Go Further is Ford’s branding response to this changed competitive landscape where consumer trust is won through integrity, not advertising hype. Ford’s Go Further program seeks to build customer loyalty by delivering cars and trucks that are fun to drive, price competitive, are leaders in fuel economy and also support achieving lower tailpipe emissions. Go Further is Ford’s path for delivering on consumers’ search for value and values in the products they buy.
Electrification is a key technology for executing Ford’s Go Further strategy. Ford has designed their cars and trucks to be smart digital machines. Digital technology enables their gasoline fueled Eco-boost engine to offer the power of a larger gasoline engine from a smaller four- or six-cylinder engine. This downsized, but powerful, engine delivers performance, fuel economy and lower emissions at a competitive price.
But the real future of Go Further is the introduction of electrification into Ford’s drive train and braking systems. Ford has just launched a series of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and total electric cars based upon their electrification technology made in the USA. The price for these cars built around electrification are currently higher than Eco-boost cars so while they are achieving encouraging sales results, their sales levels are modest compared to all-gasoline fueled Ford cars and trucks sales.
Ford Motor Company sees electrification of the automobile as its sales future based upon three major trends. Gasoline prices are the most obvious first trend. Today, the United States is producing more oil than ever before in its history including during the 1940s when Texas alone represented 75 percent of the world’s oil supply. But that doesn’t mean Americans will see the return of $1-2 per gallon gasoline prices because the economic reality in today’s global oil market it that oil demand, not supply, is driving the price at the pump. This trend is opening the cost-competitive door for electrification of cars and trucks as pump prices climb up into the $4 and $5 per gallon price range.
Manufacturing economies of scale is the second trend driving electrification. The per unit cost of electrification will decline over time as manufacturers like Ford figure out how to produce more electric cars for a lower per unit cost. The auto industry is investing in massive research to find new materials that will drive down the cost of batteries. Success measured by electrification technologies gaining price competitiveness will stimulate an electric car sale explosion having the potential for freeing customers from pain at the pump.
The third important trend is the increasing awareness among consumers that there are costs associated with burning fossil fuels beyond the price at the pump. Market research is pointing to a sea-changing growth in awareness among consumers regarding climate change. Over 65 percent of consumers over the age of 18 and younger than the age of 65 view climate change as a very or somewhat serious problem. Seventy percent of the Latino community, that is America’s fastest growing demographic, holds this opinion. This current consumer opinion aligns with the car company’s focus upon introducing electrification technologies and working to drive their costs toward competitiveness against polluting fossil fuel technologies.
This 3-minute video interview of John Viera, Ford’s Global Sustainability Director, outlines Ford’s Go Further “brand promise.” His remarks are insightful for every business seeking to win customers who are actively searching for “in me, on me and around me” solutions. He talks about Ford’s focus on offering superior product designs, best-in-class safety, introduction of smart technologies and being green.
This is the second article of a four-part case study on how Ford is going green. Their best practices can be used by every business to grow revenues and win customers. The first article in this article series profiled Chairman Of The Board Bill Ford and CEO Alan Mulally on Ford’s CSR vision and how it is driving sales. The next article will be an interview with Ford’s Global Electric Fleet Director on their electrification technologies and the last article will be a test drive review of the Ford plug-in electric C-MAX Energi profiling how digital technologies will make our driving experience more fun, cost less and mean more.
Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017 He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017.
Bill Roth is a cleantech business pioneer having led teams that developed the first hydrogen fueled Prius and a utility scale, non-thermal solar power plant. Using his CEO and senior officer experiences, Roth has coached hundreds of CEOs and business owners on how to develop and implement projects that win customers and cut costs while reducing environmental impacts. As a professional economist, Roth has written numerous books including his best selling The Secret Green Sauce (available on Amazon) that profiles proven sustainable best practices in pricing, marketing and operations. His most recent book, The Boomer Generation Diet (available on Amazon) profiles his humorous personal story on how he used sustainable best practices to lose 40 pounds and still enjoy Happy Hour!