Ford Should Focus on Millennials


Ford is one of the oldest car brands in the world, that most people know. Doesn’t seem that impressive at first, I mean lots of things last over 100 years right? Thinking about it as a brand however, that’s quite impressive. Most people starting a business would aspire to such a life span. Any brand that has lasted over 100 years must have done something right to sustain itself so long. However companies that created brands over 100 years ago, arguably got a head start in establishing itself in what today is an immensely competitive game in most sectors, especially the world of the automotive.

In 2016, Ford was in the top 3 highest selling car brands in Europe, with a total of 1,043,295 cars sold, behind Volkswagen in first place and Renault in second.  Two somewhat similar brands to Ford with respect to positioning and consumer demographics. So even a head start doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got your best foot forward. But what exactly could give this brand a bit more of a competitive edge to overtake the other two? How could we set it up for Ford to continue a cycle to last another 100 years? The answer may begin with millennials.

Relationship Matters

As it stands, Ford currently has a great relationship with millennials; a study in 2008 shown in their press release highlighted that it was in the top 5 (at number 4) car brands, that millennials said they would most likely consider buying, and by 2012 it acquired the number 1 ranking for preference by them.

But why do millennials love Ford? Well sticking to the theme of 100, Ford has been awarded as one of the 100 most ethical companies in the world, being recognised for its ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, which is a bold statement for its brand, considering it would be up against companies outside of the automotive industry. And in this age of ‘woke’ millennials who love conscious and ethical brands (sorry, Volkswagen) that award is one of the greatest invitations for them to feel good about having ownership and a relationship with such a brand.

Experiences Sell

Ford also markets itself as an enabler of experiences. One of their latest campaigns takes the concept of a classic game, Escape the Room and turns it into a drivable experience. The game was supposed to be an alternative to a typical test drive consumers might expect, and was used as a campaign to launch their 2017 Ford Escape SUV. This works because it’s the type of marketing that isn’t simply about selling dreams. Of course, selling experiences seems like the right thing to do with a generation who values them the most, however marketing isn’t just about doing; it’s about doing it right.

Millennials see past beautifully shot adverts, when it comes to cars it’s just not enough anymore. It’s about selling through experiences just as much as it is about selling an experience. It’s about being a part of what they are familiar with, without coming across as just trying to sell to them. Having millennials participate and experience through the brand and Ford hit that mark with its campaign.

So that’s a couple of wins for Ford when it comes to millennials but is that really enough to engage a generation for the future.

The next 100 years?

Okay so 100 years isn’t really a realistic or advisably time frame to sustain a goal business wise but what we’re really trying to do here is think of the bigger picture. While Ford may have established somewhat of an affinity with millennials so far, it doesn’t change the predominant narrative of millennials being the generation least concerned with buying a car, let alone owning a license. This of course won’t be the case forever, so while everyone is sleeping on the fact that millennials will take the place of generation x and baby boomers, they are missing out on being able to turn insights into future opportunities.

Ford should uncover the dynamics of the relationship between millennials, generation x and baby boomers to establish or strategies how to best target the millennials of the future. A lot of marketing and advertising to millennials today focuses on millennials today without considering the fact that millennials will go through change and grow into an updated definition. Ford should not position itself to be the trend of the times, especially with this demographic because cars just aren’t at the top of their priority list.

Millennials could potentially be a ‘microscopic’ view of what the mass society may adopt and perceive to be the norm in the future. So a focus on them in the way discussed may be of great importance when it comes to marketing automotive vehicles in the future, because their decision making as consumers could be better swayed at an early stage. The idea that Ford should focus on millennials for the next 100 years could a bit of a stretch, but Ford should definitely focus on who they may be marketing to in the next 10 years to win over their competitors and lead in sales.

Prisca Moyesa