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And No, It’s Not With An Electric Sedan

2022 S550 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Heritage Edition Muscle Car
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

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.”

Ford Mustang Marketing Man Jim Owens. Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

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.”

2020 2021 2022 2023 S550 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Autocross
Photo Credit: Neil Britton, Muscle Cars & Trucks

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.”

Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks

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.

2021 2022 2023 Ford Mustang Day Mach 1 Mach-E 1400 Vaughn Gittin Jr
Image copyright Muscle Cars & Trucks

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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