Never mind Ford vs. Ferrari (a great movie if you haven’t seen it yet). And never mind the looming Ford vs. Tesla showdown that is on the horizon. The clear and imminent “war” opponent for Ford and their dealer network is Jeep.
With the highly successful launch of the much-anticipated iconic Ford Bronco, Ford has momentum on their side. The public interest is there. And Ford has Jeep’s attention with a clear-cut competitor to the highly-popular Wrangler out there. Even Car and Driver declared a full-blown war is about to start between Ford and Chrysler (Jeep).
And the consumer should win in this battle, regardless of which side of the “war” wins. Jeremy Anspach, CEO of PureCars, a leading automotive dealer advertising and attribution technology provider, agreed that the consumer wins in such a scenario.
Dealers’ Advertising Strategies for the 2021 Ford Bronco and 2021 Ford F-150
Anspach said, “Ford dealers should do exceptionally well with the Bronco. Online buzz is everywhere as every blog, enthusiast site, and automotive publication has talked about it.
That said, Ford did something very interesting. They secured deposits and sold out of a launch edition very quickly. This will certainly be very good for dealers since it will likely result in a very low direct advertising cost per vehicle sold since the up-front advertising was done by Ford at the manufacturer level.”
Anspach points out that the key to any dealer succeeding long term lies in the fundamentals of the auto retailing business. “The dealer needs to be great at making it easy for the customer to get order details, to be proactive working with customers and make it easy to buy. Good dealers already know this and while most dealers do a good job of this, it is important to remember the importance of always making the transaction experience exceptional for the customer,” he said.
With the Bronco offering a bevy of trim options for the Bronco, Ford dealers have an opportunity to build trust with their customers in helping them select the right options that fit individual tastes.
“We are seeing dealers take the buzz around the Bronco and conquest off it. Think Jeep Wrangler, LandRover Defender and others,” Anspach said. “Some people just got excited about a vehicle but need it now and the Bronco won’t be available for several months.”
How will dealers advertise the Bronco and F-150?
According to PureCars it is expected that Ford and their dealer partners will promote through usual media channels (print, electronic, video, social) and there should be some very exciting campaigns developed as a result. Ford has the benefit of pre-registrations for the initial push.
“Jeep certainly has a very loyal following and continues to be in a great position to capitalize on all their momentum,” Anspach said. “However, the Bronco will be a serious competitor so it will be interesting if Jeep plans any kind of advertising strategy that illustrates distinct differentials between the two vehicles.”
And, according to Anspach, things are turning around in the auto industry. “Car sales have certainly rebounded from the early and dismal days of the pandemic back in March and April. Despite numbers and cases going back up in certain areas people will continue to go back into showrooms for continued sales – albeit not at the same pace of sales as last year, of course,” he said. “It’s possible that both Jeep and Ford play up the desire for drivers and enthusiasts to be in outdoor spaces where both vehicles have a great advantage to capture consumer interest from a lifestyle point of view.”
Lots of excitement, but dealers must remain focused
More than likely, the consumer response will be exceptional to new products like the 2021 F-150 and the newly launched 2021 Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport. “Ford’s F150 performed very well during COVID-19 and this trend most likely will continue. The Bronco has so much demand already and dealers will sell all they have for a while,” Anspach said. “The Bronco is also priced very well giving dealers another great selling point.”
Despite the excitement surrounding the vehicles, dealers have big decisions ahead to ensure they keep consumers engaged and excited for showroom visits. According to PureCars, after a record-breaking June for many dealers they’re starting to see things level off following the Fourth of July sales event and end of summer events.
“Depleted inventory and shifts in consumer sentiment are having some impact on sales trends,” Anspach said. “So far, surges in COVID are not having quite the same impact on demand or dealership operations that they did at the start of the outbreak, which is promising. Recovery will come, but it will likely come slower than any of us would like.”
Even with the Bronco and F-150, dealers must remain smart about their digital advertising strategies. From video, search, display and social, dealers must remain active to stay top-of-mind in front of the customer and compete in their local markets according to Anspach.
With the Ford Bronco lined up to truly challenge the Jeep Wrangler, it’s poised to be quite an interesting fall and winter, heading into the 2021 model year. Early numbers indicate that Ford could exceed all of their expectations with the Bronco and that will surely hit Jeep at the bottom line. But dealers need to be careful how they market both the Bronco and the F-150 and also be very careful not to markup either new vehicle too much.
My colleague Patrick Rall already wrote a story about some dealers have marked up the just-announced Ram 1500 TRX by as much as $50,000. While the TRX versus the Raptor also looms as part of the Ford vs. Chrysler war, Dodge/Ram/Jeep/Chrysler dealers could shoot themselves in the foot with outrageous markups like that. Ford dealers would be wise to tread lightly when it comes to markups.
What say you? Do you know loyal Jeepers out there who will crossover to buy a Bronco? If so, what’s their reason? And while the excitement for the 14th generation F-150 is there, are you fearful of the price it will cost to get into the latest F-150? Leave me your comments below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.