Ford not recognized as a German brand
The drama about German automaker and GM subsidiary Opel is not only an advantage for rivaling automakers. Although profiting from consumer uncertainties by winning former Opel drivers, the worries and the public discourse about the future of the Opel brand also did harm Opel rivals. According to a current FAZ article, a central insight for Ford was that Opel not Ford is generally being perceived as the more German of the two brands. Thus it can be said that the Opel crisis also helped Opel to strengthen consumer loyalty and to interest patriotic Germans for their affordable vehicles. To Ford this poses a completely new marketing challenge. Still suffering from the image of producing conservative, emotionless cars, sympathy for Ford may have further decreased. But it should also be mentioned that in the US as well as in Germany, Ford’s management had taken early and wise measures to prepare for the current auto crisis. Thus a scenario similar to that of Opel would not seem credible (begging for givernmental aid,…). So Ford’s marketing challenge for the future will be to produce more emotional cars, such as the Insignia or new Astra and to improve its perceived ‚German-ness‘.
One consequence of the current auto crisis might be that that markets which formerly were a taboo are now considered attractive segments. Ford and even Fiat (together with Chrysler) are considering entering the US automobile market. The cause? Perhaps this will improve competition and contribute to the overall quality of US makes. Still today, these millions of cars American automakers are producing each year simply won’t sell anywhere but the US. Europe is simply much more advancaed and competitive. If this is the scale for US makes, then and only then, there is a chance that they will survive in the long run.
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