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Old 29th January 2016, 13:34   #1
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Thumbs up An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

In an interview to ET, Ford India MD, Nigel Harris has commented on the US car maker's focus on brand transformation.

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He has also stated that the company should aspire to become the 3rd largest manufacturer, when questioned on what could be the rightful position for Ford India.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/...w/50764252.cms
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Old 29th January 2016, 15:03   #2
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Default re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

Currently Ford is placed at the 7th position in the Indian car market with 2.85% market share and sales of 77,809 cars in 2015 (Source: T-Bhp - The 2015 Report Card - Annual Indian Car Sales & Analysis).

Their aim is to become the 3rd largest manufacturer, that'll be just behind Maruti and Hyundai and that's going to be an uphill task.

The first thing is that Ford has never been able to successfully sell more than 1 model in India. First it was Ikon, then came Fiesta, Figo, and now it is EcoSport. The Figo twins are not doing that well in the market as Ford would have expected them too.

First of all, the company should not stray away from their core characteristics. As reported in the test drives and owner reviews, the Figo's lack the solid build quality and steering feedback if compared with the older generation of the second model. Ford should stick to its qualities and strengths for which it is known for.

Second, the marketing department of Ford should be more proactive. The Figo hatchback and the sedan were launched in such a quick succession without proper marketing that people were not even aware that Ford has launched 2 new products in the country. Their launches should have been a bit part so that people can differentiate between them.

Lastly, products like Mustang are great to enhance the image of Ford but those will not bring in the numbers. Ford should think of getting products like Fiesta hatch (premium hatchback, in the lines of i20 and Baleno), Fiesta sedan (with better rear end-can be a worthy competitor to Rapid, Vento, Verna), Mondeo sedan (can be a competitor to Fluence, Octavia, Elantra).

Only then we can expect of a turn around for Ford. If they do well, then in the end, consumers will get the benefit in terms of better products and increased competition.

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Old 29th January 2016, 15:52   #3
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Default re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

To add to that, they need to plan their strategy well and ensure that once a product is launched, it is available for people to see, experience and deliveries should also follow suit soon.

As we are seeing on the Ford Endeavour Thread, folks are cancelling their bookings because the timelines are not clear at dealership who do not have visibility on when would they be able to deliver.

Maybe Ford could have launched the Endeavour a bit later once there was sufficient inventory to make the car available for test drives and deliveries as well. The enthusiasm that was built up at launch would have converted to bookings and deliveries would have ensured that more people see the car and get interested/intrigued about it.

It is a very nice product priced competitively but not available for consumers and that is not the route they would want on their journey to 3rd position.

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Old 29th January 2016, 16:13   #4
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Default re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

Indian market is tricky. A company like Ford can't really stick to it's core competence & still make a lot of sales. Reasons

1. The market's obsession with FE. Solidly built cars will be on the back foot

2. Brand name & Image - Ford has a reputation of expensive maintenance. It'll take time to change it.

3. Easy to drive steering: Most of them don't bother about the steering feedback or pleasure of driving. They need a light steering for the case of use.

If Ford makes their regular cars, only the enthusiasts buy it. When they go the mass market way, they can get additional sales. Ford needs to draw a very thin line to be at that very spot where they cans manage both the sides.

I'd say, aggressive marketing & strong warranty / service packages are the way to go for Ford.
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Old 29th January 2016, 16:47   #5
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Default re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amit_breakfree View Post
First of all, the company should not stray away from their core characteristics. As reported in the test drives and owner reviews, the Figo's lack the solid build quality and steering feedback if compared with the older generation of the second model. Ford should stick to its qualities and strengths for which it is known for.
Unfortunately Ford has to compromise on something to get the numbers going. Enthusiasts form too small a sect to make commercial sense. Had Royal Enfield stuck to right-side shifters and inefficient engines for the thump and feel, they'd be out of business like Hindustan Motors.

Quote:
Second, the marketing department of Ford should be more proactive. The Figo hatchback and the sedan were launched in such a quick succession without proper marketing that people were not even aware that Ford has launched 2 new products in the country. Their launches should have been a bit part so that people can differentiate between them.
Agreed. Ford truly lost out on a lot of potential by hastily launching the Figo twins. If a greater market share is the target, segments like hatchbacks and compact sedans have to be given the priority. Here, they did a lot of ground level promotions for the Aspire before the launch, but then the advertisements and campaign with Farhan Akhtar went poof barely any time after the launch. I don't recall the Figo being pushed at all and that's really a shame because it's a great product.

Last edited by Tushar : 29th January 2016 at 17:11.
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Old 29th January 2016, 17:56   #6
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Default re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tushar View Post
Unfortunately Ford has to compromise on something to get the numbers going. Enthusiasts form too small a sect to make commercial sense. Had Royal Enfield stuck to right-side shifters and inefficient engines for the thump and feel, they'd be out of business like Hindustan Motors.



Agreed. Ford truly lost out on a lot of potential by hastily launching the Figo twins. If a greater market share is the target, segments like hatchbacks and compact sedans have to be given the priority. Here, they did a lot of ground level promotions for the Aspire before the launch, but then the advertisements and campaign with Farhan Akhtar went poof barely any time after the launch. I don't recall the Figo being pushed at all and that's really a shame because it's a great product.
True that. And the example of Royal Enfield is spot on. Hence, Ford should a fine line between what the average consumers want and what the company itself stands for. If it can do that, then there are chances for the company to grow and move ahead. 3rd position is being too optimistic currently, in my opinion, they should focus on crossing 100,000 sales figure mark as the short term goal and then move ahead from there on.

Also your insight on the advertisements was perfect. There are no advertisements on the television and/or print media. One can still see the ads of Maruti Dzire which is almost 4 years old product but there are no ads for Figo which is barely 6 months old.

Ford has some very competent products, it needs to have the right mind-set.
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Old 30th January 2016, 12:39   #7
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Default Re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

Lets ignore the '3rd position' comment - that was simply the journalist putting words into the MD's mouth.

I think that Ford has been pushing all the hot buttons lately. They're definitely headed in the right direction. As the old saying goes 'there's no problem that an excellent car can't solve'. Certainly holds true even in today's crowded market. Renault has little going for it as a company, but with the Kwid, it's hit a sixer! Had earlier done it with the Duster too. Likewise with Skoda who - despite all its woes & shoddy dealers - managed to make the Octavia the no. 2 in the segment. If you have an excellent car that is well-positioned, it will sell.

And Ford's product line-up has greatly improved in the last year. On the one hand, they've launched the superb Endeavour (well-priced too), the Figo and Aspire (both well-rounded mass market cars). On the other hand, they got rid of sales laggards (Classic, Fiesta, old Figo) so that management can focus on fresh products. From their existing line-up, the EcoSport remains a heck of a compact SUV.

They've been doing a lot of good stuff lately, including the sale of spares over the counter, more distribution centers, expanding the child part range etc.

But what Ford really needs to do is make its marketing, sales & dealer push sharper. It has the cars to sell over 100,000 a year. What's needed is laser-like focus on selling. That's where Ford comes up short. They also goofed up by launching the Figo, Aspire & Endeavour so close to each other as the company simply doesn't have the bandwidth or capacity to handle so many launches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swiftnfurious View Post
1. The market's obsession with FE. Solidly built cars will be on the back foot

2. Brand name & Image - Ford has a reputation of expensive maintenance. It'll take time to change it.

3. Easy to drive steering
All of these are outdated points. The Figo, Aspire etc. have already addressed these limitations.

Also, putting up a post from my annual sales analysis here as it's relevant to the discussion:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Ford

Ford had a fully flat year. 2014 & 2015, both, brought sales of ~77,000 cars (each).

At any given point in its Indian history, Ford has managed to sell one model only - that is, one car brings it an overwhelming majority of volumes. We hope that will change with the new launches. In 2015, 55% of its volumes came from the EcoSport. All isn't well with this talented compact SUV though. YOY numbers have fallen 17% to 42,000 sales (2014 = 51k). Except for Jan & Feb, it's not once crossed the 4,000 mark. What's more, the EcoSport's sales average for the second half of the year (excluding flood-hit December) was 3,440 units / month. The EcoSport still makes a compelling case for itself and I hope that it doesn't suffer because Ford's attention is diverted to newer launches. The EcoSport is going to need marketing support as there are more compact SUVs coming our way.

The sweet new Endeavour is an important product for Ford. Personally, I'm glad that the company killed the laggards (Fiesta, Classic) so that the management doesn't waste time on products that aren't selling anyway. Always look forward, not backward.


The new Figo & Aspire are well-priced and have a lot of attributes tuned to mass market tastes (including a light build & steering!). They offer good styling, a powerful diesel, comfortable ride quality, space, features & safety kit. Just wish Ford had spread their launches apart as they might have ended up with too much on their hands. I reiterate, Ford India hasn't demonstrated that they can sell multiple cars in high volume. Initial numbers for the Figo siblings aren't encouraging. The Aspire slid from a high of 5,176 (August) to 2,366 (November). The Figo hatchback lost 21% volume in only its second month of full production (November) to 2,790 cars. These aren't healthy signs for mass market cars. Ford must be terrified - they need to stop the fall as mass market cars never recover if the early months show weak numbers. Ford is going to have to burn the midnight oil. The engineers have done their job; now, it's up to the sales & marketing functions to push hard if they want to increase market share in 2016. Ford surely has the cars to cross the magical 100,000 mark, but.....will it?
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Old 30th January 2016, 12:48   #8
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I also think they will be under heavy pressure with the Brezza coming out. It's a direct rival to the EcoSport. You're right on the money with the focus on selling cars. But I also think they need a complete revamp in marketing.

Their ads are good but they just can't seem to get into that in-your-face type of ad strategy which works in today's age.

How many folks outside of TBHP actually knew of the "new" EcoSport? it's almost like they want to keep things secret and be a bit snobby about their cars. It only works if the secret is intriguing enough and there are no alternatives.
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Old 30th January 2016, 16:24   #9
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Default Re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

I have noticed from my experience that, Mr Nigel Haris is a leader with a focus on customer relation and one who provides instant solutions.

Last year I had a problem with a Ford Dealer at Kochi, as the car allotted to me (VIN was informed to me when the car was on transit and I gave the green signal) was in fact delivered to another customer. Their reasoning was that the car could not be unloaded at Kochi and it went to Thiruvananthapuram. At first they told me that the vehicle will be delivered at Thiruvananthapuram, which is more than 200 Kms away. The onward erroneous transport to Thiruvananthapuram turned out to be a story as the car at Thiruvananthapuram was a three month old one, which I refused. Then another car was offered from another centre at Kottayam, which in fact was a two month old one.

The unconvincing reasons conveyed by the dealership forced me to shoot a mail to Mr Nigel Haris on an assumed mail id. The mail went to another senior level person of the same name at Ford, who mailed me the correct mail id. I resend the mail at 0430 Hrs. and I got his reply in an hour's time. Within the next one hour I got a call from Customer Relation Head at Ford India and a car was shipped to me the next day to Kochi.

That is MD, Ford India for you.

Last edited by FlyingSpur : 1st February 2016 at 03:01. Reason: Edited per RP
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Old 2nd February 2016, 17:35   #10
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Default Re: An interview with Nigel Harris (MD, Ford India)

Rahul Goutam, VP - Marketing, Ford India in an interview to campaign india.in tells us why the auto major will steer clear of the entry segment, explains category trends, and the brand's digital focus

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The interview gives insights on
- How the co has fared last year
- The journey so far
- Competition
- Domestic growth and exports
- Digital marketing
- Challenges in the Indian industry
- Core focus area for 2016

http://www.campaignindia.in/Article/...ord-india.aspx
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