DEARBORN - The science behind delivering a strong luxury brand requires a different formula than the traditional mainstream market product. It’s about striking a balance between offering an exclusive and personalized customer experience while keeping the promise of the very best in product quality.
So where is Lincoln in the process? Lincoln is offering four recently introduced vehicles, including the Lincoln MKT, MKS, MKX and MKZ, which is about to arrive in showrooms.
Planning is underway to attract new customers by redefining their experience to strengthen loyalty and build sales. Reflecting on today’s landscape, Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing, Sales and Service recently updated the team on Lincoln’s strategy during the third quarter Americas Business Review meeting. In defining this process as a journey, one vital to success for every luxury brand, Farley discussed the requirements and plans to return Lincoln to its glory days and to win in today’s luxury market.
Riding the Coastal wave
Farley kicked-off his discussion by acknowledging a key priority to grow customer share in coastal markets. Metro areas like New York City, Miami and Los Angeles represent more than half the luxury car market and where the competition already dominates. Although Lincoln sales were competitive in the Great Lakes region, in fact even exceeding Lexus, developing a greater coastal presence is essential for long-term growth of our customer base.
Lincoln competitors’ strong presence and large vehicle fleets on the coast have fostered significant cycle of customer loyalty that consistently drives increased sales. On the contrary, Lincoln’s shortage of vehicles in these markets, the majority of which are more than 10 years old or no longer in production, has limited its ability to reach new customers and drive robust sales.
“The way for Lincoln to grow is to transform our conquest power,” said Farley. “The fact of the matter is for us to grow, we have to take share away from someone else. When you look on the coast, our competitors are gaining automatic loyalty every time a customer comes back to the dealership to return a lease.”
With the introduction of four new Lincoln products there is an opportunity to increase exposure, attract new customers and establish new affinities. A lot of progress has already been made to ensure customized experiences for customers through Lincoln’s consolidated dealer network with prioritized critical markets. The end game is Lincoln is ensuring it’s in the right place in the right way.
Changing with the times…opportunity calls
Looking back, the Great Recession changed the luxury automobile industry, moving customers away from large sedans to small and medium-sized models. With new transformational products, Lincoln is primed to compete again in the small and medium-sized segments that already claim 80 percent of all luxury car sales. Further, Lincoln will have the most aggressive refresh rate of new models, representing nearly twice that of competitors.
Farley noted that, “Lincoln is so fortunate to be rejuvenating its lineup right now. The design of a Lincoln will look individualistic, organic, warm and surprising, not at all like the German definition of beauty. What we are offering is different and offers a unique design, world-class quality and a fun yet comfortable ride. We believe that Lincoln can really innovate in these areas, where other brands are stuck with their legacy.”
Matching product quality to world-class experiences
Luxury customers expect personalized and exceptional dealership experiences – so offering this is imperative for growth. Lincoln is helping dealers meet these needs by introducing programs that include the Lincoln Academy, luxury hospitality trainings and augmenting them with new and exciting consumer experiences.
We are seeing a renewed commitment from dealers to reinvest and enhance services to match Lincoln’s renewed quality, offering brand perks such as complimentary car washes and service loans. “We're asking dealers to take their profit and reinvest it in their facilities, said Farley. “Our vision is not to be a mass retailer like BMW or Lexus, but instead a small, personalized brand, like a tailor or a local spa where they know who you are.”
To revive what people know about Lincoln, dealers are pre-launching new models with customers to build early advocacy. Unique offerings include “Magic Moments” that provide on-the-spot perks and a 24/7 online concierge service that acts as a personal shopper through Lincoln’s website.
“The Lincoln journey is just beginning, said Farley. “The luxury business takes time, consistency, excellence, talent and a vision of where you're going. We have all this and can redefine our DNA to be among leaders by 2014.”