With Tinder, Ford redefines art of wooing the customer

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla | Updated on: Jun 06, 2019

Rahul Gautam

Another instance of digital being the best bet for brand marketing

Tinder, the dating app that made ‘swipe right’ and ‘swipe left’ part of our everyday lexicon, is winning the hearts of couples and advertisers alike.

The app’s global user base of over 58 million, 85 per cent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 34, has caught the attention of brands looking to connect with consumers through unconventional marketing.

The latest is Ford India, which joined forces with Tinder to organise blind dates, a month before Valentine’s Day and ahead of the launch of the Ford Figo facelift a month later on March 15. The brand was first launched way back in 2010 and marked Ford’s entry into the competitive hatchback segment.

“Tinder is a relatively new platform in India and it was our first collaboration with them,” says Rahul Gautam, Vice President-Marketing, Ford India. The social networking features of Tinder provided fuel for growth and literally helped set the Figo’s wheels in motion.

As part of the association, people who swiped right for the new car model on the dating app and ended up matching with it stood a chance to win an all-expense paid date night after its launch.

The selection of the medium, continues Gautam, was based on the understanding of audience behaviour. “A sizable number of our intended users are on the platform (Tinder). Two, the key function of the platform has the potential to keep alive the brand campaign narrative of ‘Smart Choice’,” he says.

While Tinder has managed to change the way people meet and date around the world, Figo helped redefine how people in India view hatchbacks. Intended for people who don’t blindly follow the crowd, the campaign urged consumers to check out the new design elements: the large three-dimensional honeycomb grille with chrome accents, new headlamp design and halogen units along with a new front bumper and round fog lamps.

The unique association with Tinder worked so well that the brand decided to steer away from regular marketing activities and cosy up to digital. Ford believes in the ‘Digital First’ approach and Gautam insists digital is not just integral, but often the core medium.

The media landscape and digital ecosystem have undergone a lot of changes over the last five-six years, with increased smartphone penetration, growing mobile service connectivity and a rising internet user base of youngsters who are early adopters of new technologies. “Correspondingly, media consumption behaviour has also changed dramatically,” says Gautam.

“As opposed to an earlier theory that the consumer purchase journey is pretty linear in nature, today’s consumer journey is completely different: most of it is influenced by an easy access to the internet. The thought of a ‘Digital First’ strategy is an outcome of audience behaviour.”

A careful analysis of the auto buying journey by Ford indicates that 90 per cent of the prospects start their buying process with research across various digital platforms. The company has noticed that 21 out of the 24 buying journey touchpoints are digital.

Moreover, given the tectonic shift happening with the way content is being consumed, Gautam says digital as a medium has surpassed most traditional mediums. “The rise of OTT platforms in India has seen a decline in TV viewership of English content and lifestyle channels. The year 2016 was a decisive year in Ford’s marketing journey when digital played a key role in the launch of ‘Feels like Family’.”

Three years on, the auto brand continues to hold strong the ideology of a digital-first initiative. Gautam maintains a strong digital mix coupled with mediums like Programmatic (which is the automated buying and selling of online advertising) giving the company a competitive edge over its peers.

“Digital as a medium, over the past three years, has helped us become extremely efficient and razor sharp in our endeavour to reach out to relevant audiences, and handhold them in their auto buying journey. There has been almost 7X reduction in cost per enquiry, while volumes have grown by 10X,” he adds.

Ford also uses digital media for service and has introduced a Service Cost Calculator and Parts Pricing on its website, which allows consumers to know their service and parts cost, even before walking into any dealership.

It has also launched some of its brands on social. As Gautam recalls, “No one can forget the Urban Discover or EcoSport Unboxing in India, as well as the Fiesta Movement in Europe. The most recent introduction of Figo Blu on Tinder is yet another example of reaching the audience where they reside.”

Aspire Blu followed the launch of Figo Blu where the product made its debut on Tinder. Gautam also brings up Search Voting, Ford’s digital campaign with Google for the launch of its new EcoSport.

This combined strong intent cues from consumers in their search, while Chatbot Banners which allowed users to talk to the brand on the banner ad itself, assured a better customer experience.

As Gautam points out, “Our entire digital approach revolves around identifying relevant audiences and we continue to engage with them in the most personalised way.” “We also look to identify prospects basis their demographic and behavioural attributes and interact with them using customised communication, depending on their stage in the buying journey and past interactions,” he adds.

Published on June 06, 2019
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