The last time I talked to Ford Mustang marketing manager Jim Owens, he revealed a sobering statistic: the Mustang buyer is getting older. This comes at a time when nameplates like the Corvette, Dodge Challenger, and Dodge Charger are all enjoying a younger, wealthier and more diverse customer compared to previous years.
However, Owens and company are working to bring that age number down.
“The segment has shrunk over the years,” Owens admitted in a one-one interview with MC&T. “There’s a lot less size of the pie of people who are sports car intenders. So as that pie shrinks, what do you do? It’s more experiential. It’s getting them into the product to get them to feel what it does.”
That’s not to say that there isn’t a strong foundation of Millennials that are Mustang True Believers. There’s even a club for them, too.
“The Mustang Millennial Club, we have a club for millennials started by a millennial who is a hardcore geek, and try to get them into vehicles on a more interactive basis,” Owens said.
There’s quite a bit of contrast in the taste and behaviors from the more seasoned Mustang groups that make up the 170-plus recognized Mustang Club of America charters.
“A lot of (Mustang clubs) are Show-and-Shine, you come up, you park, you do your cars and coffee and hang out,” the Mustang Manager continued. “What we found in the younger demographic is that it has to be more experiential. They want autocross, time attacks, test and tunes.”
Bringing The Ford Mustang To Experiential Events
The Ford Performance marketing strategy also relies heavily on celebrity driver endorsements. Faces like Vaughn Gittin Jr., Hailie Deegan, and Joey Logano all shoulder the duties of championing the brand in different ways, while Ken Block worked with Big Blue for years before recently separating with the brand to forge a new path with Audi. These drivers regularly show up to events, like the Gridlife Festival, and demonstrate their driving abilities in extreme Ford Performance vehicles, such as the Mustang Mach-E 1400.
“We went down to Gridlife ATL in 2019 with Vaughn Gittin Jr,” said Owens. “We did Velocity at Laguna Seca… we like Gridlife and other opportunities that bring in other activities surrounding it.”
Managing Millennial Tastes
These extensive efforts to attract younger Ford Mustang buyers aren’t really something we’ve seen when it came to previous generations, as it seems Millennials overall may require more stimulation.
“It does (take more effort to attract Millennials). Both in a segment size standpoint and an activation standpoint. You really have to have the facility and the ability to do that,” Owens admitted. “We started testing some different activities to go to.” (Turns to ask) “what was the balloon thing? The Albuquerque Balloon Festival. We went to an air show in Sacramento. We were trying to go to some seafood festival in New Hampshire. That one wasn’t millennial-focused.”
Jim Owens said that this strategy of tying the Ford Mustang with events has a lot to do with the personality types that attend them.
“You bring somebody in who has an affinity towards something specific, and then you bring in and bolt on the vehicle side of it. Because that affinity group is already motivated enough to do an activity, they’re willing to be engaged.”
Will Ford be able to bring the average age of the Mustang buyer down to levels enjoyed by the Dodge Challenger and Charger? With the electric Mach-E SUV on sale today and the S650 model right around the corner, time will soon tell.
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