Launching Ford Ka in France
How to Align Customer Segmentation with Industry Realities to create a Competitive Advantage
Introduction & Background: Gilles Moynier, Brand Manager at Ford France, faced with a series of critical decisions as the Paris Motor Show loomed in the near future. Time was running short, and a market segment, targeting implementation, and overall positioning had to be determined in the context of Ford’s overall objectives. What’s more, the Ka, Ford’s newest entry into the French small-car market, had been developed, built, and almost launched prior to researching consumer needs.
The traditional auto industry segmented the car market in the past into size-tiers and had not changed this approach in years, if not decades. Since the size of a car is correlated largely with the production cost and thus with price, this product categorization led car manufacturers to segment customers according to their income and age. Small cars were sold to younger, lower income buyers and large cars to older, wealthier buyers and families.
In general, the only “typical” small car marketing strategy for Ford was to pursue the segment of younger, lower income people described above—that was the default position. However, over the years, the market began to fragment due to a series of environmental and demographical shifts. Rising fuel prices and environmental concerns drove the emergence of environmentally conscious buyers while demographical shifts such as decreasing average household size and the rise of the number of working women in France led to an increase in the number of women car buyers. Beyond these two factors, other shifts began to take place and created a new environment where price was no longer the most important factor in buying a small car.
Ford made its presence felt in the small car market (less than 390 cm) with its Ford Fiesta model. In 1995, with a market share of 7.6%, Ford Fiesta was one of the top selling cars in the small car...