A 1992 brochure for the Ford Crown VictoriaScreenshot: Ford Heritage Vault
Print media has been experiencing a very slow, painful death over the last two decades. As more and more people access their media and information electronically, there is no longer a need for printed materials — or for companies to even offer information in print. The same goes for auto brochures. In what seems to be a first in the auto industry, Ford made an announcement that the company will no longer print those glossy brochures with all the specs, in a multi-faceted move to save money and the environment, reports Cars Direct.
Car brochures have been an important marketing tool, for decades. A 2017 study found that over 90 percent of prospective car buyers found car brochures helpful when choosing or researching what to buy. But technology has made most of these brochures obsolete. Information that you could spend a couple of minutes flipping pages for can be easily found and accessed in seconds on auto websites. But it’s wasteful as millions of these brochures are printed every year, and the smallest annual change or update to a model can make thousands of brochures obsolete.
As early as 2017 Ford had plans to move away from print brochures. Ford Canada, for instance, said that getting rid of just 800,000 brochures across Ford and Lincoln models would save 245 tons of wood annually. Now, the company is making that move again, with a bulletin sent out to inform dealers: “Due to the microchip shortage and related budget constraints, the Ford Brochure Program will be discontinued after Q2 2022. Both digital and printed brochures will no longer be available after June 30th” the bulletin reads.
Moving forward, buyers will be forced to go online to find information they are seeking. While it’s not a big deal, those who aren’t as technically inclined may find this to be a problem. This move also allows Ford to back itself up regarding supply chain issues. As Cars Direct points out, if you go on Ford’s site to build and price a model, there’s an acknowledgment you have to agree to about supply chain issues and chip shortages causing some features not to be available. Having customers see this online instead of reading a brochure and assuming the vehicle they are building is going to come equipped the way they expect means Ford can say, “I told you so,” if someone cries foul about a feature not being available.
I reached out to Ford to get an additional comment regarding the brochures and will update when they respond.