Ford Is Making Merchandise Moves as It Looks to Expand Into Lifestyle Brand
Ford, following in the footsteps of Ferrari, is increasing its non-automotive merchandise in an effort to create a wider ranging brand.
The company just hired Alexandra Ford English, daughter of Ford executive chair Bill Ford and great-great granddaughter of Henry Ford, to the newly-created position of global brand merchandising director.
Ford (the brand) had previously collaborated with Versace in 2019 to create hoodies that cost more than $1,000—a high-value choice for a brand whose identity previously catered to more middle- and working-class people.
English’s job will be to take Ford’s automotive history and motor sports presence and “create an expanded collection of lifestyle merchandise.”
Ford most recently relied on promotional items to appease frustrated Bronco buyers facing manufacturing delays. The company offered up to $1,000 worth of branded merchandise (of which there is a lot) for dealers to give customers to ease their frustration.
The expansion of the Ford brand beyond just a car company and into a “lifestyle” brand echoes what Ferrari did recently by introducing a high end fashion line. It differs, however, in that Ferrari’s apparel push coincided with a decision to shrink its licensed merchandise by 50% in favor of more targeted efforts.
Plus, Ferrari and Ford, while both legacy automotive companies, have different brand identities. Ferrari has always been synonymous with luxury and status. The way that Ford is branching out to be more than just its core product is more in line with what some bands have done after their playing days ended, like Slayer.
English and her family’s company are banking on customers wanting to engage and represent Ford enough to buy in.
“Anywhere you go around the world, you find passionate Ford fans,” she said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “And we want to offer them an inspiring collection of merchandise and accessories, and potentially even digital products.”
While there’s no official announcement detailing what those products will be, the current Ford merchandise shop includes apparel items like T-shirts, hoodies, outerwear, and hats; accessories like face masks, patches, keychains, bandannas, tote bags, cooler bags and backpacks; and home goods like drinkware, smartphone charging pads and bottle openers.
These are all a bit more basic than the $1,000 Versace collaboration, which positioned the everyman brand identity of Ford as an almost ironic decoration on extremely high-end apparel.
It’s safe to say that English’s job will be to expand on the existing Ford merchandise offering, maybe creating more brand partnerships down the road. The inclusion of “digital products” also points to some NFT’s, which is sort of the hot “item” right now.
Ford itself is already a recognizable name, and it has additional brands within its company, like Bronco and Mustang, that it can use for additional advertising among owners and fans alike.