Marketing opportunities spotlight: Ford
March 7th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Marketing opportunities spotlight: Ford

In December of last year, Ford’s CMO Suzy Deering left the company. During her near two-year tenure, she oversaw the go-to-market strategy for Ford Blue and the Ford Model e, the latter of which will serve as Ford’s next generation of EVs. Ford also launched several key products including the Bronco, F-150 Lightning and Maverick with Deering at the helm.

The vacancy for CMO raises several questions about Ford's future, especially with the company’s EV manufacturing ambition. To better understand the challenge facing the new incumbent, YouGov has identified an audience who will be key to the brand’s future success – potential Ford customers – analyzing its members’ views on electrification, as well as how Ford can connect with them.

Mapping Ford’s consumer base in the US

First, let’s examine a breakdown of consumers’ relationship with Ford.

Roughly one in eight Americans are currently Ford customers and hold have a positive impression of the brand (12%; coded purple in the chart below). A further one in seven are former customers of the automaker with positive impressions of Ford (14%).

But for the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on the Ford-aware segment of consumers who have never been customers and who hold a non-negative opinion of the brand (38%; roughly 96 million US consumers). We’ll refer to this group throughout as Ford’s potential customers (coded red in the chart above).

We want to understand how these people view the world of sustainability and electric cars – and see how Ford’s new CMO can use these insights to convert this group into customers of the brand.

How do Ford’s potential customers feel about sustainability?

Sustainability, climate change and electrification are key areas of focus for Ford’s future, as part of its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality worldwide by 2050. And according to YouGov data, this aim - and the concomitant actions - should sit well with a large share of Ford’s potential customers. That’s because this target audience stands out for its stance on EVs and its willingness to pay more for sustainability.

Here’s what the data reveals:

  • They firmly believe EVs and green energy is the future. More than three in five (61%) of Ford's potential customers say electric cars are the future of the motor industry (vs. 47% of Ford’s current customers). Another 65% believe that green energy is the future (65% vs. 50%)
  • They’ll put their wallets behind sustainability. More than two in five (42%) of this segment say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable energy, 10 points higher than what Ford’s current customers responded (32%).
  • They’re eco-conscious about their purchase decisions. 40% of Ford's potential customers say they try to only buy from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible (vs. 29% of Ford’s current customers).

YouGov research indicates that Ford’s efforts toward sustainability may be better received by this group of potential customers than by existing customers.

But, of course, it’s not as simple as all that. Ford’s new CMO also has to find a way of connecting with these potential customers.

Getting to know Ford's potential EV customers

Every audience is unique in its demographic and psychographic makeup and different in how its members live their lives. Let’s learn more about Ford’s potential customers who plan to buy an EV to understand their specific needs and habits.

Starting with their age and gender, Ford's potential EV customers tend to be younger when compared to Ford’s current customers. More than a quarter (28%) are between the ages of 18 to 29 and 39% fall between 30 and 44 (that’s vs. 9% and 21% of Ford current customers, respectively).

And while Ford’s current customers tend to be evenly split by gender, its potential customers are more likely to be men (63% vs. 49%).

Ford's potential EV customers also tend to have higher earning potential, with 16% saying they make at least $120,000 or more (vs. 9% of current customers).

This potential customer group is also looking forward to some notable milestones in the next 12 months when compared to Ford’s current base of buyers. Close to a third (32%) intend to buy a car and more than a fifth say they’ll switch jobs (22%). They also stand out in their propensity for potential home buying and 15% say they’ll move homes in the next 12 months (vs. 5% of Ford’s current customers).

Understanding this segment’s interests and hobbies can also inform creative messaging and marketing campaigns. Ford’s potential EV buyers group skews younger and how they spend their time tends to reflect that.

This group is more likely to say they are interested in computers and technology (51% vs. 25% of Ford’s current customers), fashion and design (25% vs. 12%), LGBT issues (31% vs. 22%), playing games (54% vs. 35%), online entertainment such as watching YouTube (52% vs. 29%) and exercising in a gym (44% vs. 20%).

So how do you reach this group? Well, the target segment stands out in its usage of Instagram (54% vs. 31% of Ford’s current customers), Twitter (41% vs. 24%), TikTok (32% vs. 13%) and LinkedIn (26%. vs. 14%) - even if Facebook continues to be the most popular platform on which to spend time.

As for music and video services, this group are more likely to be listening and watching on YouTube (25% vs. 16%) and Spotify (21% vs. 13%).

When it comes to TV streaming, Ford's potential EV customers are more likely than Ford’s current customers to be watching TV on Netflix (65% vs. 47%) and YouTube (50% vs. 35%). There’s no difference between the two groups when it comes to viewership of Amazon Prime Video (40% vs. 40%).

Unlocking a new audience segment for Ford

Ford’s longevity speaks to a brand that has become accustomed to moving with the times – and its vision for electrifications aligns well with the values of consumers who have never been a Ford customer but have a positive or neutral opinion of the automotive company.

With Ford’s CMO role still waiting to be filled, the begs an immediate priority question for them: what marketing tactics can now connect strategy with audience?

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Photo by Pavel Anoshin on Unsplash