Ford wants the new Fiesta to appeal to a younger, smarter, more brand-conscious buyer. It wants the model to become desirable rather than inevitable, for buyers to actively want a Fiesta rather than settling for one. Which is why last year senior Ford executives involved in the Fiesta project went shopping in Top Shop with a group of 20-something women.
They went to these lengths because Ford and its advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, were concerned that decisions about advertising the new car were going to be made by people who were mostly male and at least 45 years of age.
Without going out and finding the target customer, they were not going to know what resonated with her. She is, apparently, a 25-year-old physiotherapist whom Ford called Antonella; an Italian name was used because Italian women have the lifestyle most typical of Fiesta buyers.
It was no surprise to discover that these women are very brand-conscious, but the Ford team found that there was no consensus about what brands are the right ones. The women have strong individual beliefs about what brands are hot, but disagree a lot with each other.
Ford regards this as generally good news; as Roeland de Waart, Ford’s British chairman, puts it, “In the 1980s brands were ubiquitous. Everyone wanted Lacoste, for example. Now it is fragmented, with different brands appealing to different sub-groups.”
Maureen Graham, brand manager for the Fiesta and Ka and the only woman in the Ford group, was interested to discover that young women are more tech-savvy than she expected. “Twenty years ago you could safely have assumed that boys were more likely to be interested in gadgets than girls,” she said. “Now, with the generation that has grown up with mobile phones and MP3 players, that would be a dangerous stereotype.”