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Marketers Need Customers' Help

It's not easy for companies with long production cycles and complex distribution like the car companies to include volatile consumer preferences in their product planning, but they are finally figure out more ways to do it because, well, they can't afford not to.

Link: - Ford mines consumers' wants by Sharon Silke Carty

Mike Kilander, vice president of business development for, says part of the problem automakers face is that they make decisions based on potentially flawed data. For example, a study of the Miami market shows that 31% of all Corvettes sold there were black. But only 19% of buyers using the Edmunds Web site were interested in a black Corvette.

"You're essentially trying to forecast in a push industry," says Kilander, who is developing a consumer forecast product for Edmunds. "One of the problems is, you're relying on data that is suspect. If 20% of the people bought a car that wasn't what they really wanted, and then you're basing your future decisions on that data, you've got a problem."

That's why Ford is gathering data today at on Fusion that will be put in use in June — which is still three months before the car reaches the market.