VP-Marketing, Sales and Service | 19 Nov 2007
“We are constantly talking to our customers to understand their emerging needs and evolving lifestyles. Our customers’ lifestyles have changed; today’s customer has an active lifestyle. He is looking to spend quality time with his family, explore new territories, visit new places, and is looking for a car that can meet all his needs.”
As Ford India’s Vice President-Marketing, Sales and Service, Scott McCormack’s responsibilities include managing the brand, ensuring high customer satisfaction with the vehicle purchase and service experience, meeting the company’s sales objectives, and developing a strong and vibrant dealer network.
In his previous role, Scott led the Asia-Pacific marketing launch of the Ford Ranger pick-up truck, which went on to become a major contributor to Ford’s sales volumes throughout Asia-Pacific and Africa. Scott has also played a key role in establishing the Ford dealer network in Thailand. He was also a key member of the team that re-launched Ford’s operations in Indonesia. Preceding Indonesia, Scott served in financial analyst positions with the Ford-Mazda joint venture assembly plant and the Ford Alloy Wheel Plant in New Zealand. He also played a pivotal role in bringing together Ford and Mazda dealers in Auckland under single ownership, with Ford Motor Company as a significant shareholder.
Scott joined Ford Motor Company in 1990. A Commerce graduate from Auckland University, he has completed his MBA with distinction from Massey University. In this conversation with exchange4media’s Judy Franko, Scott talks about Ford’s journey in India since its launch in 1995, its robust product portfolio, and Ford’s commitment towards customer service. Excerpts:
Q. What is the positioning of Ford as a brand in India? And how is your positioning different from competition?
Ford is positioned as a maker of cars that are exciting to drive and own. We base our products strongly on consumer feedback in an effort to engage our customers in a unique relationship with our cars. We want to make everyday an exciting one for them.
Q. What kind of connect does Ford India enjoy with the Indian consumer? How do you profile your typical Indian consumer?
Customer profile differs for each of our cars, depending on the segment the car belongs to. We always look forward to grab insights provided by our customers, affiliates and partners, to help us in our future decision-making relating products and service offerings in the marketplace. We are constantly talking to our customers to understand their emerging needs and evolving lifestyles. Our customers’ lifestyles have changed; today’s customer has an active lifestyle. He is looking to spend quality time with his family, explore new territories, visit new places, and is looking for a car that can meet all his needs.
Over the years, we have developed a great rapport with our customers. At Ford, we have always maintained that customer satisfaction is our top priority, and our commitment towards customer service is validated by the recognition that we have received from various third party surveys. Ford India ranked first in Business World’s Customer Satisfaction Survey 2007. We also ranked No. 3 on Business World's yet another survey of India’s Most Respected Companies in 2007, with first place rankings in the ‘quality of products’, ‘services’ and ‘global competitiveness’ parameters.
Ford India also ranked No. 2 on JD Power’s ‘Customer Satisfaction Index 2006’. The newest accolade that make us proud is that Ford India recently became the first passenger car integrated manufacturing facility (OEM) to be accredited with the ISO/TS 16949: 2002 (with design) Certification. The Certification awarded by TUV South Asia Pvt. Ltd in India specifies the quality system requirements for every process involved in making the product. This certification is testimony for our quality and management systems, and our customer-oriented approach.
Q. Ford India has just launched a new edition of Fiesta Sedan recently. Do you have plans to launch any more cars this year?
At Ford India, we are constantly exploring new opportunities and assessing our business strategy in the country. We keenly investigate opportunities at both ends of the segments we currently operate in to gauge where the future potential and volumes are. With Fiesta, the Ikon, the New Endeavour, Fusion Petrol and the recently launched Fusion Diesel, Ford India already has a robust product portfolio that has been recognised for quality, fuel efficiency and market acceptance. We will continue to expand product offerings in the marketplace based on customer feedback.
Q. What has been the marketing strategy of Ford India?
To begin with, the marketing strategy behind each brand launch is based on a strong consumer-driven positioning. At the same time, it needs to be rooted in the product and clearly differentiated from competition. We base our communication on consumer driven insights to enable a stronger connect with our consumers, and to ensure the communication resonates with the target customer.
Q. How has your advertising and communication complemented the brand Ford? We have seen some good creatives by JWT…
With constant product innovations, we have kept our brands fresh and appealing, and customers have responded favourably to our efforts. Appropriate communication to the target audience with true facts put across always helps brands. The positioning of the New Endeavour as the action family SUV is based on an in-depth understanding of new active families in today’s urban environment. They want to try out new things and travel to different places together. Holidays are no longer about going back to their hometowns; they are about exploring new places together and seeking new experiences as a family. It is this target customer that the action family SUV is based on. The new communication plank of the Endeavour 4x4 connects with this target customer, as the brand is an enabler in seeking these new experiences.
Similarly, our most recent ‘5 minutes mein Fida’ campaign was all about how one needs just five minutes to witness Fiesta’s excellence in performance, and thereby fall in love with the car.
Q. You have also started advertising on radio in a big way. The focus also seems to be on BTL activities now…
Today, radio is one of the most widely used media for advertising, and we are exploring it to a great extent. Radio does constitute a major part of our advertising. We recently launched the ‘5 minutes mein Fida’ campaign on the radio, as well as on television.
We undertake a lot of below-the-line activities. The Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon was ‘Driven by Ford’ –we were the transport partners for the event, with the New Endeavour and Fiesta as the lead cars of the marathon. We also do a lot of events with our customers. We recently conducted a ‘Ford Treasure Hunt Drive’ for our existing customers in Ahmedabad, and a contest ‘HT War in Windies’ in collaboration with Hindustan Times. The contest winners, one each from Delhi and Mumbai, won Fiestas as the grand prize.
Q. Do you think LPG and CNG cars are going to succeed in the market? Is Ford India planning to launch any of those cars?
LPG and CNG cars do have a huge potential; they need to be backed up with great infrastructure to be successful. The kind of infrastructure these cars require is presently only available in a few cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad, to name a few. In the current stage, diesel is the most viable option in terms of an alternate fuel. We offer CNG variant of the Ikon and continue to support fleet operators.
Q. What is the percentage of growth Ford India posting in the last financial year?
Ford India posted a 45 per cent fiscal growth for the period April 2006-March 2007.
Q. What is you market share in the mid-size and SUV cars?
Endeavour has maintained a significant share and has been comfortably leading the premium SUV category. With the New Endeavour, the response has been outstanding and we are gearing to match our supplies to the demand. Since the New Endeavour launch, we have grown our volume by more than 45 per cent over the same period last year, and we see our share improving as we go forward. The success of Fiesta has contributed largely to Ford India sales, where we have close to 20 per cent of the total market share of the B, B+ multi-activity vehicle or MAV segment in India.