Evolution is unstoppable – we’ve moved on from Holden vs Ford

Does customer loyalty last forever?

Nope! As sentimental as we all can be, market forces are always chipping away at established industries and their flagship brands.

 HOLDEN OR FORD – who do you choose?

holden ford

Like many Aussie’s born in the 70’s and 80’s, I grew up dreaming of owning a Holden Commodore, cruising down the streets with the familiar rumble of the 5 litre V8 as my soundtrack.  Those with a Ford Falcon were the enemy.  They weren’t bad people, just people who made bad choices.  This mindset was indoctrinated in me during my formative years.

I was so excited when my dad told me he’d taken the liberty of buying my first car.  He worked in the motor industry all his career, mostly as a Holden dealer, so I was pumped in anticipation of seeing a Commodore in the garage waiting for me.  I was now in debt for $2000 but it was worth it knowing my dream was about to become reality. Upon arriving home that day, I opened the garage with such gusto I nearly ripped the door off its rollers.

It’s a FORD!   What the …?

Unbelievable.  How could my dad, a Holden dealer who had imprinted the Holden Lion on my psyche since I was a baby, buy me a Ford Escort Panel Van?  And now that $2000 I owed dad seemed like a waste of money and a humiliating investment.

But beggars can’t be choosers, so after a few minutes of shock, I pulled myself together, switched on my manners and thanked him very much.

As it turned out that car (which was older than me), stayed with me for the next 11 years, transported me safely from Tasmania to Queensland and became very dear to me.

 Things change

Only when I was married, did I sell it to buy my first Holden.   Instead of the Commodore I chose the Astra, only to have a shocking experience where it ‘died’ after three years (just out of warranty of course!).  That car was a lemon and let me down badly.  My wife and I were so scarred by one bad experience, we chose a Mazda as our next car and we still have it today, 12 years later.  We’ve since added a second car to our garage, but again, it isn’t a Holden.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because, my car purchasing history is not dissimilar to many other Australian’s.  As you’ve read, I grew up as a massive Holden fanatic, cheering on Peter Brock as he raced his “05” Torana’s, Monaro’s and Commodores around Bathurst. With dad bringing home different new models regularly I had the unique experience of driving nearly every Holden model release during the late 80’s and 90’s.  I was brainwashed to be a Holden ‘groupie”.

And yet, I’ve only owned one Holden.  How could this be?

 Choice – the killer of brand loyalty

I guess the combination of my wife and me moving interstate, dad retiring, our bad Astra experience, the mind-boggling choice of vehicle types and brands that have become available in Australia, has contributed to my early brand loyalty giving way to other considerations.  And clearly I’m not alone.  One key factor as to why car manufacturing in Australia is no longer, has been the changing tastes of consumers (along with the removal of industry protections, the impact of the GFC on the big US motor manufacturers, the cost of labour etc).

A quick look at car sales data tells the story of changing tastes and greater choice.  Here is a comparison of the top five selling cars in Australia over the past ten years:

holden ford table


Knowing what customers want has always been an important business consideration, but now it is more critical than ever.  Technology and innovation are bringing new industries into play and disrupting long established industries.

The car industry provides a fascinating case study, but the period of change has only just begun. Last week marked the end of the car manufacturing in Australia, but what about car manufacturing globally? The future of battery powered cars, solar powered cars, driverless cars, “SAEV” (Shared Autonomous Electric Vehicle) is unclear but things are certainly changing and the challenge is for the Goliath’s of the past such as General Motors and Ford to adapt and thrive in an era competing against Tesla, Tata, Great Wall and the newer kids on the block.

Business leaders must balance the here and now with the future to constantly ensure they are providing customers with goods and services that meet their expectations.

Ben Walsh – General Manager – Recruitment

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