Ford has once again figured out if you make good looking cars people buy them
It really isn't that hard. If you make a car that looks good, drives good, and is well specified and priced? People buy it.
News from across the globe this morning as Ford America announced that they'd doubled the Ford Bronco production, which is still sold out. Yes you read correctly, they doubled the production and the car's entire first-year allocation is still sold out. That means, and thanks to COVID19, it'll potentially be years before you can get your hands on this car.
But here's the thing, none of that surprises me in one skerrick. In fact, manufacturers who continue to stroll down the path of creating ugly cars that nobody wants defy all laws of marketing and business. Like for example, the new BMW 4 series. Admittedly I've now seen IRL photos of that car and in person, it doesn't look that bad. However, thanks to the initial barrage of terrible images we say of the 4 series the demand for the vehicle (online anyway) has been near nothing.
But this is nothing new to Ford, is it? Ford brings out a new Focus, Escape or Explorer and no-one cares. But when they release a new F150, Raptor, Mustang or Bronco people perk up and get their wallets out. The fact that Ford had an initial production on the car aimed at a skerrick of what it was tells you just how bad manufacturers in the 21st century are misjudging their own market.
The Bronco, for example, is meant to be a niche product with the Bronco Sport aimed at bringing new customers into the brand. With all the economic issues COVID19 is bringing as well, Ford presumably thought that their customers were tightening the belt so to speak. But this is where as a marketer myself I have to scratch my head. This is where I ask the product team why in god's name they didn't get a market research study done on the segment. Because it's plainly obvious that the hardcore offroad segment is much bigger than they make it out to be.
Ford has made that mistake with the Mustang previously as well. Their second to previous Mustang iteration was sold out for almost an entire year and by the time they'd caught up to production the market had figured out the car was insanely unsafe and stupidly difficult to drive. So the appetite for the car dried up and people started taking their deposits to competitors.
The Bronco is beginning to look the same. I mean I, personally, hope the car is absolutely amazing. But what I don't want to see, and hope to god doesn't happen is for Ford Broncos to start appearing online and in dealerships as aged stock.
This brings me to my point though. If manufacturers know that when you build a ridiculously good looking car with good engines and good specs, those cars tend to sell out. Then why the hell don't they just make cars like that all the time. Why do they dabble around with stupid next-generation designs that look out of proportion and ridiculous?
Let me give you an example of an upcoming car that I can't get my head around, the Mercedes EQC. The EQC is meant to boost Mercedes into the stratosphere and become the next generation of the Daimler brand. Instead, it looks like a Honda CRV. Mercedes knows that their most successful models are head turners; the G Class, the GTR, even the S Class coupe. So why don't they just make an electric car that looks like one of those? Funnily enough, if you do that everyone would buy it. But instead, they've got this odd poxy design which has zero demand at presale.
It's actually really upsetting that car designers still can't get it through their thick skulls. Suzuki is another one. The Swift is a godawful looking car and it sells in exactly the same way, but the Jimny isn't and funnily enough, Suzuki can't make enough cars to keep up with the demand. KIA and their stinger when compared to some of the other KIA vehicles on range like the Carnival and the Sportage.
The problem feels like it's so indoctrinated in car design that you have to accept the problem eternally. But that isn't quite true, is it? Because there are manufacturers and designers out there who do nothing but good looking products. Like for example, Apple. Apple could release a sex toy and it would still look fantastic. And that's thanks to a product designer named Sir Jonathan Ives, who essentially influenced every product Apple released since the mid-90s.
Famous furniture designer Herman Miller is another company that seems to do no wrong when it comes to design. Every product that company touches turns to gold, and they seem to work across multiple segments of furniture.
And so I feel like I need to plead to the Ford Motor Company. Next time you have a European pick up a sketch pad to design the next generation Mondeo. Have that designer do some market research, have them study the best 4 door car designs in history. Have them drive down the street with an ugly looking car for a month so that they know what it's like to drive something disgusting. And then have them sit down with the same sketch pad again. Maybe instead of scratching the artsy-fartsy itch and do a Picasso on a car, they go down the path of Jonathan Ives and create a product people actually want. And once they've done it for one car all they need to do is repeat it 12 more times.