Ford Offers a Fiesta of New Features: We Reveal Which Hit the Mark Across Growing Global Markets

Auto dealers all over the world have been eagerly anticipating this year’s car buying season ever since it was reported that global car sales were expected to increase by at least 2.4%, a total of over 88.6 million, in 2015. This expected buying increase has been fueled by North American, Chinese, and certain European country economy growth and lower than average gas prices.

Of the vehicles expected to continue vrooming off the car lots, the Ford Fiesta has seen great success internationally and is expected to show continued growth.

There are several advanced features that accompany this year’s Fiesta models in various countries. We were interested in understanding more about consumer’s thoughts regarding the features within the expanding North American, Chinese, and Germany markets. We wanted to see which features offered on Ford Fiesta models in these markets would have the most impact on purchase interest, and see if there were any opportunities to craft communication to optimize their relevance and appeal.

Specifically, we really were looking to:

  1. Uncover and Explore the top features chosen in the U.S., China and Germany
  2. Dig into features that resulted in inconsistent feedback across countries in order to understand the opportunities for communication refinement and priority of the features globally.
  3. Identify insights that may help to increase relevancy for the features tested.

A Blended Approach – Quant & Qual

For this particular study, the first step was to see what Ford Fiesta features had the most appeal and purchase impact, but also identify where there might be inconsistencies between countries. To identify this, we first launched a sequential monadic quantitative Agile Screen, across our three selected markets with 300 total respondents. We then rolled the top features uncovered from these findings into a 1-day qualitative study to get a deeper understanding around why consumers would chose these specific features and where opportunities for communication refinement around each existed.

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In both studies our respondent audience was comprised of males and females, 18-54, looking to purchase a new or used car within the next two years, and were willing to consider the Ford Fiesta model.

FEATURES CONSIDERED:

  • Hill Start Assist – Holds car stationary on slope for two seconds after break is release to allow time for driver to apply throttle
  • Active City Stop – A light-detecting and ranging sensor used to scan road ahead to automatically apply breaks to avoid or reduce severity of collisions at speeds below 20 MPH
  • Ford SYNC – Voice-Controlled multimedia connectivity system for personal music collection, Bluetooth calls and other phone connectivity features.
  • Ford MyKey – Programmable restricted mode that limits top driving speeds, decreases allowable audio volume, and more
  • Start-Stop Technology – Seamlessly turns off engine when at stops to increase fuel efficiency

Results for the Road Ahead

Of the five features our respondents had to choose from, the overall winner when looking across all markets was the Start-Stop Technology. It had high scores for purchase impact in the U.S. and China and was ranked high in believability in Germany. All markets also recognized it as a particularly relevant feature given their daily driving habits. When looking at scores from multiple countries it is always important to look at each country individually, rather than comparing them to each other since culture can affect consumers’ tendencies to be more positive or negative.

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When we dug in for specifics around the Start-Stop Technology in our qualitative phase we found out exactly why this feature had the world wide vote:

IRG Respondent

I’d obviously and most likely use it at any stop light or sign. Optimally I wouldn’t even know it was being used, the only thing I’d notice is how much money I was saving.

Male, 30, US
IRG Respondent

I can use this feature every day. Shanghai traffic is bad every day, especially in rush hour, I have to constantly switch between gas pedal and brake, the cost of fuel is high. If I had this feature, it would help cutting down on the cost…

Female, 32, China
IRG Respondent

The engine restarts if it gets too hot in the car. I really like that someone has already thought of that.

Male, 47, Germany

Additionally, Active City Stop was the winning feature in Germany with high scores across appeal, purchase impact, relevancy and fit with brand.

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Further investigation, our qualitative research phase also found all respondent groups agreed that the Active City Stop feature was the most attractive. Since the scores were quite high in Germany, we wanted to dig into why this feature was so attractive.

I like this feature very much, because it provides a high level of safety on a journey – even if at times I’m not always fully aware of the traffic situation.

Male, 32, Germany
IRG Respondent

Sometimes people overlook waiting pedestrians or they overlook a car. Here it would save lives if the car brakes could work faster and more efficiently.

Female, 36, Germany

Refine and Improve

While our blended quantitative and qualitative approach provided some clear findings on which features were a hit in all of our markets, we did uncover the potential for communication improvements…even amongst our winners.

First up, the top performing Start-Stop feature did leave a few folks scratching their heads about how all this engine stopping and restarting would wear on the car. They also showed concern about how quickly the engine could pick back up and go again after cutting power.

IRG Respondent

I think this feature is about relying less on the fuel by constantly switching the usage of battery and engine. However, I am not sure if the frequent switches would have any negative affects on the engine life.

Male, 40, China
IRG Respondent

It all sounds good as long as there isn’t a delay when you take your foot off the brakes [to start going again].

Female, 54, US

These concerns could be ironed out with some refined and optimized language that addresses exactly how the car is able to withstand the engine restarts and get moving as quickly as an unequipped vehicle.

Additionally, there was opportunity to further refine the Active City Stop feature message. Our respondents across all markets didn’t understand why it was only available at speeds of 20 MPH or less and a little clarification on why this lower speed was best would go a long way to boost understanding.

IRG Respondent

I like the feature, but only preventing crashes up to 20mph, while nice, doesn’t sound like much. Although every little bit helps. I do like the idea of the brakes being at their optimal performance being charged up at all times. That’s a feature that caught my eye.

Male, 30, US

The Fiesta Continues

It was clear that our respondents from the U.S., China and Germany indicated high interest in the Start-Stop and Active City features. Our blended quantitative and qualitative approach was able to not only provide the top picks, but the “Why” behind the consumer preferences. These findings gave us a deeper story on how each preference impacts not only feature appeal, but also purchase impact, believability, relevancy, and fit with the Ford brand. We also were able to uncover areas where the messaging could be optimized to address any misunderstandings around these features, and how consumers imagine it fitting in with their life and driving habits. In all, having the qualitative story to back up the quantitative findings offered the level detail needed to full understand which of the features was attractive to consumers and where messaging should focus to impact purchase behavior.

If you would like to see all of the qualitative and quantitative report results from this study, including country-specific findings about the various features, we encourage you to download the full executive summary reports here!

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