As a lover of many sports, I’m a loyal fan of the Detroit Red Wings, Michigan State Spartans, and Olympiacos. Tragically, the Wings are out of the chase for the 2012 Stanley Cup, MSU didn’t go to the 2011 Rose Bowl, and Olympiacos got bounced out of the UEFA Champions League tournament pretty quickly. At the same time, I’m not about to wave a Chicago Blackhawks flag, throw on a University of Michigan shirt, or paint my face Panathinaikos green. That would be fickle and spineless. My devotion for these teams has been set, and I’ll never bring myself to suddenly defect. Especially to a rival organization.
As any fan will vouch for, sports trigger a lot of passion. People passionately fight over disputes with rival team fans at bars, parties, work, wherever. But such a thing isn’t exclusive to sports. The same vehement nature can be found in the automotive world. To set you on the same wavelength, look at the fanbase between the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. Both muscle cars are celebrated by a beloved enthusiast following, of which hold a deep scorn towards their cross-town adversaries. Visit the comment section of any online video, any news article or any social media post regarding the cars, and you will find both blind praise from the loyalists, and bitter words from smack-talking trolls representing the other side. Another segment where such behavior is exhibited is the pickup truck market.
The Ford F-Series being the best selling pickup truck for over thirty years running is no accident. It’s a great line of trucks and always has been. This kind of success has much to do with rock solid brand loyalty that’s been passed on from generations. It’s not uncommon for a Ford truck man to hook his son or daughter onto Ford trucks, keeping the line going. The same goes for Chevy people. Except there seems to be a lot more Ford favoritism, not unlike University of Michigan fans to Michigan State fans (but it’s the MSU fans that you wanna party with). And the most rigid segment of the truck market has to be the heavy duty sector. Powerstroke versus Duramax versus Cummins.
Sure, you can probably get an F-150 buyer to look at a Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500. But to get a seasoned Powerstroke buyer to buy a Duramax? It would probably be easier to convert a Muslim into a Jew. It’s possible, but the conversion rate makes the effort hardly worth it. Because for these people, it doesn’t matter if a Silverado 3500 can pull the moon from orbit if they’ve been Ford loyalists their whole life. They’re set in their ways. So rather than GM exhausting its efforts into this trap, it would be better to focus on younger opportunities.
Just as Chevrolet continues to turn its eye on the Millennial market with small cars like the Sonic and Spark, the marketing team should focus their efforts on attracting younger truck buyers that are virgin to the HD market. And unless it’s somebody who’s from a family tradition of Ford or GM, these buyers carry a more neutral loyalty, which if the folks at GM cared to gain more market share in the HD segment (and why the hell wouldn’t they?) should make a more focused effort towards winching up and pulling in this niche audience. The Ford/GM market imbalance won’t level out overnight, but it’s a change that can happen over time. And it’s not like GM has nothing to tout. Far from, as Pickuptrucks.com crowned the Silverado HD as king of the hill after it spanked the Ford Super Duty in the Heavy Duty Hurt Locker comparison test. GM also has their HD to HD videos that can be found on YouTube which show viewers that the Silverado HD is currently the best choice when it comes to no-frills truck performance. GM has the ammo for a powerful HD truck marketing campaign, but it seems the gun isn’t big enough for the bullets.