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Marketing Management Case Study

Case Title:

Ford’s Bumpy Market Share: A Marketing Makeover?

Publication Month and Year :  July 2009

Authors: C.V. Chiranjeevi

Industry: Automobile

Region: US

Case Code: MM0009

Teaching Note:  Available

Structured Assignment:  Available


Henry Ford, with ‘low pricing’ as the key marketing strategy ruled the automobile industry for about two decades in early 20th century. Ford Motors, which enjoyed a huge 50% US market share during mid-1920s lost to Sloanism and never regained the status it enjoyed. With Sloanism outsmarting Fordism, marketing strategies shifted to offering differentiated products with style, speed and ‘muscle’ vehicles. For most of the 20th century, mass marketers enjoyed a huge market share in US, as the automobile industry was consolidated into the ‘Big Three’. During the second half of the 20th century, Ford along with GM and Chrysler suffered quality, reliability and safety problems, which led to the loss of consumer faith in US auto brands. This opportunity was rightly utilised by foreign automakers, in particular the Japanese, with their quality and fuel-efficient automobiles. With gasoline prices soaring high, consumers preferred buying smaller and fuel-efficient vehicles in the 21st century, in which the Japanese mastered in manufacturing. Ford, with a 105-year automobile history, witnessed historic bumps in market share and struggled to improve sales and brand perception with innovative marketing strategies. Unable to convert all mass-production units into compact-car manufacturing units, Ford intends to promote ‘Americanness’ of US brands (Flex SUV) with new marketing strategies. Can marketing alone create a market for automobiles?

Pedagogical Objective:

  • To analyse and debate on the role of marketing in Ford (1920–1980)
  • To analyse the organisational alignment in the light of impending changes
  • To debate on the new marketing initiatives of Ford
  • To understand how the vision of top managers get obscured in identifying the core business activities of companies over a period of time.

Keywords : Changing consumer markets; Ford; Big Three; US Automobile industry; Market Share; Marketing Strategies; Jim Farley, Brand Perception, Customer Satisfaction; Marketing Makeover, Firestone tires; Standardization; Mass-production; Henry Ford; Myopia; fuel-efficient automobiles; Lean manufacturing techniques, Marketing Management; Marketing Mix; Market Segmentation; Product Life Cycle; New Product Development; Consumer Behavior; Marketing Case Studies; MBA; Marketing Course for MBA Marketing Course Case Map; Course Case Map; Case Map


  • Ford's Marketing: From 1920–1980
  • US Automobile Industry: Rapid Changes and Ford's Restlessness (1980s–2007)
  • Ford's Market Share Loss: Marketing Makeover

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