Ford Motor Company is one of the world’s largest producers of cars and trucks and one of the largest providers of automotive financial services marketing vehicles under the eight brands shown below. The Company is a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. During 2002, the company made 6.7 million vehicles and employed 328,000 people worldwide. Business partners include 25,000 dealers and more than 10,000 suppliers.
Ford motor company offers a wealth of variety to the automotive consumer. As they start their second century of business, they are now in a position to appeal to the widest range of potential customers. Each of their automotive brands has a unique personality and holds a distinct place in the ford motor company family.
The marketing orientation has become common in companies that make things for individual customers. It remains rare in heavy industry that produces steel, coal, oil, and paper, where the immediate consumers are other businesses. The transition from the production orientation to the marketing orientation is still going on. It is the most important but least understood revolution in human history, marking a decisive power-shift from institutions to individuals. In the production orientation, human enterprise asked first what we could make, and second whether anyone will want it.
In the marketing orientation, we ask first what we want, and second how we can invent the means to fill that want. Production made people technology’s servants. Marketing makes us technology’s masters. The marketing revolution promises a golden age when social institutions and markets are systematically organized to maximize human happiness. One of marketing’s strongest features is its empiricism. What science did for perception, marketing does for production. It tests intuition and insight against empirical fact. Henry Ford thought he knew what people wanted from a car: cheap, reliable, and black.
Ford sold millions of model-Ts in the 1920s with this mass marketing strategy. Then General Motors came along, segmenting the market into many strata according to income, age, and tastes, attracting buyers by fulfilling their needs more precisely. Now all car companies work very hard to find out what people really want from cars, and they try to build cars to fit the preferences. Market research uses all the same empirical tools as experimental psychology, but with larger research budgets, better-defined questions, more representative samples of people, and more impact.
Ideally, marketing’s empiricism works like Rogerian psychotherapy: it holds up a mirror to ourselves, reflecting our beliefs and desires so we can recognize, remember, evaluate, and transform them. Ford Motor Company is undergoing a transformation that is putting their customers at the center of everything they do. Their vision is to be the world’s leading consumer company for automotive products and services. That requires a much different headset than that of a traditional automobile manufacturerone that concentrates intensely on the people who buy and use their products.
Obviously, they had had a pretty good idea of what their customers wanted in the past, or we wouldn’t be approaching our 100th anniversary. For nearly a century, Ford Motor Company has worked to improve people’s lives and be a responsible and valuable member of the community. In recent years, they have expanded and accelerated their corporate citizenship efforts, and worked to integrate them into their overall business strategy. But today’s customerand today’s competitionrequires a deeper level of understanding. Traditional market research is fine, but it’s only the start.
To transform the company, require all employees to interact directly with consumers. At the Consumer Insight Center, customers bring their vehicles in and discuss them face-to-face with Ford employees. The emphasis is on the individual’s interaction with her or his vehicle. The most well known consumer connection programs is the effort to provide home computers and Internet access to all of employees around the world . Being a leader in corporate citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but also is fully aligned with ultimate goal of providing superior shareholder returns over time.