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After tasting success in the mass car segment with the EcoSport compact SUV, Ford now plans to take retail innovation from one of the biggest global consumer markets to other geographies. In an interview with FE’s Roudra Bhattacharya, executive VP of global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln at Ford Motor Company James D Farley Jr talks about how rural and semi-urban sales will gain increased focus going forward and how its Indian unit is taking the lead in digital marketing.
Ford began its innings as a premium player in India in 1995. What is the brand positioning today?
Our positioning depends on the size of the company. As we grow, we hope to become more mainstream in India. The focus will be on smart technology and design. What we want is to focus on the cost of ownership and break down the myth that Ford vehicles are more expensive. We have to connect with the customer to show our vehicles are affordable.
India is many markets within one. What will your strategy be to compete in geographies where the Ford brand is unknown?
India has become a leader in retail innovation and this knowledge we hope to take to our other markets. Some time back I was in Kerala and I saw how the small shops control trade. We want to learn from them and in some ways take a leaf out of how FMCG firms do business here.
We will work on our digital capability, where I think the team here is taking the lead. Customers are going more digital and smart phone adoption is exploding. We need to be in all these places. The exciting thing is the unusual nature of outdoor media in India, where there are many opportunities for new types of engagement.
The urban markets are stagnating, but the rural and semi-urban markets are growing.
We have started to discuss what we can do for the rural markets. That is definitely the next big thing and it is doing well. There will be an elaborate strategy in this area.
What car segments is Ford planning to focus on in India?
It is most important to compete in the heart of the market. We started with the Figo, and then the EcoSport. For us, the new Figo sub-four metre sedan shown yesterday is the watershed moment. The A and B segments will remain a focus area for us as we look to get mainstream.