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Ford Edsel Failure Executive Report

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 1849 words Published: 4th May 2017

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Managers understand the advantage of global marketing and branding system in order to overcome their organisations needs. September 1957 was the beginning of a classic brand failure of all time in the automotive market, which led to the modernisation of marketing strategies in many organisations around the globe (Matt Haig 2003). The failure of this particular product has set a good example for many growing business around the world.

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In 1954 Ford motor company gained a good name for producing a highly well known car “thunderbird”. Consequently the success of the thunderbird booming market led to the design and development of a new car that will initially take over the automotive market by storm. Ford’s CEO’s wanted to repeat the same success by producing a car the market has never experienced before according to their marketing strategy. In 1955 Ford motors have already began the concept design of their new car Edsel. However the car did not reach its selling point due to the lack of marketing research, quality control, and branding.

The report analysis the problems encountered during at the time when Edsel was designed and released, pointing out the main issues that had affected the production line missing out the key pointes which led to the biggest brand failure of all times. Furthermore the report stress out the lessons that needs to be learnt from their mistakes in terms of their marketing strategies, quality control, and critical decision making. Additionally how the lessons learnt from their failure can be applied to the new product for the next generation by applying all the possible solutions in order to have a successful product.


Edsel Bryant Ford was the son of Hennery Ford founder of the ford motor company. Edsel followed his father’s footsteps in becoming the president of Ford Motors Company (Haig Matt, 2003). Following his death, the company continued to produce and manufacture cars providing the consumer alongside other automotive competitors. In 1955 Ford motors began the development of their new car Edsel and opened new production line. From the time when they had a constant competition from other automotive manufacturers, such as General motors, they wanted to lead the market with their new launch “Edsel” that was destined to fail.

In 1957 Ford Motors Company had already began introducing Edsel. Months into the design process of the concept car, Ford motors decided to start advertising using the slogan “The Edsel is coming”. The company decided to for fill the consumers market with high expectations via expensive advertisements even to the point of creating its own brand T.V show, calling it “The Edsel Show”. However during the process of this launching advertisement the company has already made a mistake of not showing the full product to the public, dealers where restricted not to put up the car for display, which created a very hi expectations from the consumers point of view (Haig Matt, 2003).

By the time the car was ready for launch, Ford Motors have already spent $200 million dollars bringing Edsel to the market (Flory j. Kelly, 2008). The extreme desire for more success in the automotive industries in relation to the success of thunderbird has over shadowed the values of marketing research as well as producing a very well managed product that will fit in the existing consumer demands at the time. However after two years in the production, the company directors could not sell the 200,000 Edsel cars they would have hoped for, they managed to sell only 64,000 cars at beginning of the launch. Just after six months the sale was sluggish (Flory j. Kelly, 2008). Due to these factors Ford Motors closed down the new division line permanently.

What went wrong?

The style and design factors

The style and design of the car was one its biggest failures and most talked about amongst consumers and critics. Due to the lack of marketing research and defining what the customer’s needs are, the first impressions from the public were not the expectations of many Ford company directors. Many customers have expressed their thoughts in terms of the design looks, where some expressed it as “car grill” and “horse collar” (Sheila Mello, 2008). At the outset the first prototype design and assembly contained brilliant features and other design factors which could have overcome the problems they were facing. However this prototype design was too expensive for production according to the director’s. Other major issues related to the design were the fact that some of the cars have already reached customers incomplete, where some parts were missing.

Product Name (Branding)

The car module name has played a significant roll. The research group that was asked to carry out the market research had come up with 10,000 names to chose from, however this was considered to be one too many. Having carried this strategic marketing research the board failed to chose any of the names listed out, instead they decided to name it “Edsel”, a name that belongs to the sun of Hennery Ford the founder of Ford Motors. Just like the style the name has been criticised, the fact that the name can’t be easily pronounced, and meaningless.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing Research failure due to self-image, although they carried out what they thought was a high standard market research. Ford Motors have created more of a Product-centric approach rather than Customer-centric approach. Ford Edsel was not designed based on the customer’s needs at time of recession rather based on what they thought the customer wanted.


The car was released when United States of America was entering the recession, at a time where customers are looking to reduce their expenditure, in particular the middle class who had been affected the most. During this time other automotive competitors such as General Motors were reducing the cost of their existing and upcoming car models. Edsel was launched at this time which was overpriced in comparison to other Ford modules such as Mercury. Frome Customers prospective Mercury was much more reliant, cost effective, and well equipped in comparison to Edsel. Therefore Edsel did not produce any competitiveness even amongst other Ford models. Furthermore internal infrastructure did not have much difference than the existing Ford modules. At the time consumers were looking for fuel efficient cars, however the Edsel model had a bigger engine, which was not the desired engine at a time of recession due to high fuel consumption.

Lessons learnt from Ford Motors Experience

Customers drive the definition of the product due to their humanly behaviour, and their behaviour is driven by their individual needs. Hence organisation such as ABC limited must adopt its structure roles and internal activities of the dynamic requirements of the customer.

The lessons to be learnt from this failure are the fact that evaluating the current marketing needs, looking into the estimated market size and the potential. Furthermore pricing and their interdependency and making the right decisions before developing the prototype design.

The product development holds the key to achieving good customer needs in that, regardless of who the organizations are, there is always a competition amongst other organizations. In order to stay ahead of any competitive threats it can only be done through new innovation through successful product development.

Product decisions must come before any development of a product. In order to design and produce the new product, the organisation must make the right product decision before launching the new product to full-scale.

Applying the Lessons learnt to new Products

Edsel’s Failure has become a source of innovation for growing and existing companies and business, meaning companies such as ABC can learn the importance of research and development of a product. In particularly when producing a product that will have an end user, and the expectation product life cycle to be much longer.

The importance of Designing and Quality Control

If the triangle of forces were to be used the quality will be much greater than the time and cost. One of the main reasons why Edsel failed is due to the luck of designing and quality control. Therefore when designing the new product for the next generation it is imperative to point out the need for a good structured design and quality control whilst focusing on the customer’s needs, which involves asking the right questions before production and thought.

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The importance of Marketing Research

Making an assumptions or relying on previous success to produce new product does not justify what customers want, which was one of the main issues Edsel producer faced. There market research was too vague, in that they used what considered as Product-centric approach where customers are not involved in much of the design as well as the in the research carried out shown in fiure1. The new product for the next generation must have a critical market research and survey which can define the exact targeted customers. The approach should me customer-centric as shown in figure 2; the customer’s aphorism should always be involved.

Figure 1 Product-Centric

Source (Sheila Mello 2008)

Figure 2 Customer- centric

Source (Sheila Mello 2008)

Product Naming (Branding)

Now day’s companies concentrate more on branding the product rather than the physical item. The idea of branding is to invoke the buyers mined. In ford Edsel case their branding ego has caught up with them, in that they have developed a trend by over-estimating their own importance, and their own ability. It is important that when decisions are made within the company for this new product has to be customer focused.

Analysing Current Economy

As seen the problem with Edsel, the timing of releasing a product is crucial. Therefore analysing the current economical issues could determine the products pricing target. Determining a well balanced price with the economy can help the success of the product to reach its potential selling target.


Regardless of the misguided marketing research that potentially led to the failure of Edsel, it is important to point out that Ford Motors have regained some of their reputation by learning from the mistake they have made during the Edsel production, and use this failure as a resource of innovation to produce their next car model Mustang, which still exists among us to this day. The new product which is ought to be designed and produced can use this as a learning method to succeed within the market, hence giving the company ABC an overall successful company.


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