A great story yesterday at Bloomberg got me thinking about the constant fight in the auto world to be number one.
Every automaker fights to become number one and then, when it gets there, spends ample amounts of marketing money bragging about its greatness. They all do it, whether it’s having the number one selling truck, the top selling sedan, the best fuel economy, the highest safety ratings or, the mother of all number ones, being the top selling automaker in the world.
Consumers, I would argue, really don’t care about which automaker is number one. They just want a great car. Judging from the story I ready yesterday, Ford might be figuring that out.
The topic of the new Ford Fusion outselling the current number one sedan, the Toyota Camry, was brought up with Ford CEO Alan Mullaly. He said it was possibility, but not the goal. To quote the story,
Ford can’t make enough Fusions to outsell the Camry, the top car in the U.S. for the past decade, according to researcher IHS Automotive. Instead, with Fusion, Mulally is aiming for a balance between commanding top dollar for each car and selling a lot more of them.
How’s that for a refreshingly brilliant strategy?
Ford’s global marketing chief, Jim Farley, agreed:
I don’t think we’re very enamored with being No. 1 just to be No. 1. We’re much more enamored with getting the right price point and the right kind of people to buy the car.
Getting fewer people to pay top dollar for a car is better than getting more people to pay discounted prices in order to boost volume. It’s better for business, better for brand awareness and better for long-term survival of the vehicle.
If companies would give up their quest for number one and refocus on building the best quality cars they could, I’d have a lot more respect for them. Striving for greatness is a lot more attractive to me than striving for popularity.
Which is more attractive to you as a car buyer, an automaker devoted to being number one or an automaker devoted to building a great car?