Ford’s “faster horses” Reveal the Buying Psychology Secret

By Lyudmila Kim. Mila, from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a freelance writer and avid digital marketing fan. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Apparently, the whole idea of turning a dream into reality is far from what a human being truly needs. Communities always wish for better dress and better food, larger houses and longer lives – not because the dresses they wear create discomfort, or the food they eat cause digestion problems, nor because the houses they live in are cramped, or 70 odd years of average lifespan is a far cry from enjoying life to its fullest. ‘More’ and ‘better’ are just the basic principles of evolution and progress.

Way too many researchers have examined the psychology behind consumers’ decisions, convincing us that a product is bought only when we need it, rather than when it is simply offered to us. A famous Ford statement disproves this, however, uniting both logical and emotional components in one ultimate marketing effort.

To introduce some cold facts, Ford’s Model-T was met with immediate success upon its introduction in 1908. Within the first month following the release 15,000 orders were placed for a reasonably priced, reliable and efficient Model-T, which later became a Car of a Century.

What is remarkable about people wanting “faster horses” is that there will always be things that people won’t buy into, not because they are not in need of it, but because the necessity as such has yet to be introduced to them. That’s where true marketing steps in. And, clearly, that’s what Ford understood.

Ask yourself: how much time have you spent researching a particular style or venue, only to ultimately end up slipping into a cozy pair of jeans and heading for next door pizzeria? Just because you want something does not necessarily mean you will instantly have it.

Perhaps this is why we can consider Ford as the greatest marketing buff of his time: Ford connected the dots between emotions – “want” or “desire”, so to say – and the real need of the rising middle class to become a symbol of America’s age of modernization.  His new Model T was easy to operate, maintain, and handle on rough roads, much of what people used to farmland needed.

Little did he miss on the emotional component of the Model T, either. Large enough for a family, but small enough for a single person to run and care, its magical selling power laid in its potential of letting a countryman “enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces” as Ford himself once said.

Were it not for his ability to relate to his customers, and walk in their shoes, the world would have never had the mass-produced affordable vehicles we have today. Moreover, major marketing principles such as targeting audiences and whole market research would have been missing if Ford had decided to rely solely on the conventional practices of ugly, gasoline-powered, unapproachable, high-end commercial cars of his age.

A great number of modern-day promotional campaigns try to use the same principle as Ford when selling a product to businesses or consumers. Would you rather buy an unbelievably costly high couture evening dress sold for 10,000 dollars which could turn a girl-next-door into a Hollywood star, or a unique creation by a local designer perfectly matching the purse you bought just days before, which also offers a fair sale price? Taking the monthly bills, and rental stay, I doubt you’d go for a fancy-fashionista image if your budget did not stretch quite a bit.

The bottom line is that even though the desire is present all the time (that is, the desire for something better, unique, and in greater quantity), its selling power rarely hits the target unless its uniqueness, and a story behind it, are skillfully woven into a practical offer. In other words, the decision is made on the spot no matter what we may think we desire, as many of us have vague desires and aspirations, and oftentimes real needs go unnoticed until the comparison with an equally attractive and persuasive alternative is brought before us. Ford was not the greatest inventor of all time, but he was one at the forefront of innovation, uncovering marketing wisdom inherent to buying psychology.

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