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Ford Motor Company (F) - How to Sell Cars to the Feminine Mystique

March 25, 2013 | About:
Sally Jones

Sally Jones

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With automakers casting a wider global net, top billionaire investor Gurus seem split on the Ford Motor Co. (F) as of quarter ending Dec. 31, 2012. While increasing automotive exports overseas, automakers are also reaching towards women as a sector of key buyers, earners and decision-makers. The obvious necessity of marketing to women is finally trickling up in corporations after Betty Friedan wrote all about it 50 years ago in her classic book “The Feminine Mystique.” (There’s a chapter on advertising: The Sexual Sell.)

It’s very interesting that Ford India and Ford in Italy have two very different ways of selling cars to and through the feminine mystique. Today CNN reported a Ford Figo ad campaign in Italy depicting Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi driving a Ford Figo with three women bound and gagged in the back. The Ford company has already apologized.

Over in India, it’s a prettier picture painted by Ford India, if one can withhold cynicism about cause marketing that uses the exotic photo opportunity of poor women and infants in remote areas.

In the last year Ford Motor used comprehensive cause marketing in India to generate positive perception and grow sales among women. Their programs champion the empowered woman and solve urgent pregnancy health issues to help the automaker fill the steady demand for cars overseas. Ford India’s pilot program, concluded last month, was designed to bring healthcare to women and children living in an inaccessible part of remote India. The program is called “SUMURR,” meaning Sustainable Urban Mobility with Uncompromised Rural Reach, and, of course, it features a rough-riding Ford Endeavour SUV as the hero, traversing the most difficult of terrains to save lives. After arriving in rural areas in the SUV, healthcare professionals use laptops and cell phones to connect with doctors to help pregnant women. According to Ford’s website, the program made safe childbirth possible for 41 pregnant women in India.

Interweaving a country’s basic need for urgent health care via telemedicine with the perception of Ford India’s all-terrain SUV is a great way to build brand loyalty, generate word of mouth, and “own” a country. As for capturing sales and interest, it’s working. Exports for the third consecutive month combined with steady domestic demand helped Ford India end 2012 with sales of 10,899 domestic wholesale and export units in December. Its subcompact Ford Figo, unveiled in 2009, is produced for India’s market as well as for export to other Asian countries and Africa. Ford India’s domestic sales saw 6,517 vehicles sold in December 2012, compared to 5,978 units sold in the same month in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 9 percent.

In February 2013, Ford India sold 7,253 vehicles, combining domestic sales and exports. Ford India exports rose 16 percent in February to 2,763 units, up from 2,389 units last year. The domestic wholesales numbers stood at 4,490 in February 2013 as compared to 8,035 in February 2012.

Top executives have commented on the company’s challenges in expanding to overseas markets. President and managing director of Ford India, Joginder Singh, said, “Despite a tough business environment, we have seen record exports and sustained customer interest in December… As we head into 2013, we will continue to focus on providing products and services, with Quality, Green, Safe and Smart attributes, that our customers want and value.” Executive Director of Marketing Vinay Piparsania said, “In the domestic market, we continue to witness some tough and challenging conditions. While we are generating consumer interest in our great products, policy uncertainty and resulting lowered consumer confidence is impacting our business.”

What are top Gurus doing with Ford Motor Co?

As of Dec. 31, 2012, Bruce Kovner added 48.07% to his Ford Motor Co. (F) position.

His holding history:



Articles on GuruFocus.COM

Other Guru trades at year-end included:

As of Dec. 31, 2012, George Soros bought 3,135,000 F shares, as did Jean-Marie Eveillard who bought 6,863,716 shares. Louis Moore Bacon bought 185,500 shares and Paul Singer bought 306,280. Other new buys were David Dreman who bought 34,399 shares, Hotchkis & Wiley bought 115,300 shares, and Ken Fisher bought 19,961 shares, all at a price of $13.3 on average.

In the same quarter, Gurus who reduced their F shares include Jim Simons reducing by 82.89%, Paul Tudor Jones by 64.9%, Alan Fournier by 39.76%, Ken Heebner by 32.7% and Steven Cohen by 22.17%.

See details on Guru trades.


Rating: 3.5/5 (4 votes)

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