In order to meet the needs of the Chinese luxury auto customer, Lincoln officially launched its new on April 17. It has created a special model, The Lincoln Way, which appeals specifically to the Chinese market. The brand shifts luxury automotive ownership from a sales-and-service transaction model to a relationship-based experience model.
By 2016, Lincoln will bring five new vehicles to China, starting this autumn with Lincoln MKZ, a midsize luxury sedan, and Lincoln MKC, a small luxury utility vehicle. The two vehicles will be followed by a midsize luxury SUV, an all-new full-size luxury sedan and a large luxury SUV – Lincoln. The full vehicle lineup in China will be equipped with EcoBoost engines. Together, these products will cover more than 80% of the luxury auto segment in China.
All Lincoln vehicles sold in China will be imported from North America.
Lincoln vehicles will be sold through an independent network of 60 dealers in 50 cities across China by 2016. The first eight dealers will open in seven cities this autumn.
“Throughout its history, the Lincoln brand has stood for meticulous craftsmanship, fantastic breakthrough designs and a warm, welcoming personal touch,” said Alan Mulally, CEO, Ford Motor Company. “We are excited to bring Lincoln products and the Lincoln customer experience to Chinese luxury customers. It is an important part of our One Ford plan and demonstrates our commitment to China and to the success of Lincoln globally.”
Learning How to Connect with the New Customer
The Lincoln team spent the last three years gaining a deep understanding of the new luxury automotive customer in China. “Our extensive study of the new luxury customer in China revealed that they are underserved in the luxury auto market,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president, Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln.
The research showed that today’s Chinese luxury customers are quickly evolving. They are no longer satisfied with luxury as an overt statement of their personal net worth. Instead, they are increasingly seeking luxury as a way to express their individuality. They want luxury brands that can meet their personal needs and reflect who they are as an individual. As a result, they also want to build a personal relationship with brands whose culture and values they can identify with.
The Lincoln team even took the unprecedented step of building a fully functioning prototype dealer facility in Shanghai to research, test and refine every aspect of the Lincoln customer journey throughout the purchase and ownership process.
The result of this extensive work is The Lincoln Way – an innovative new model for luxury automotive ownership designed to create lasting relationships through personally crafted experiences that make a connection with customers. Key elements of The Lincoln Way include a distinct, welcoming home-like environment featuring a relaxing tea room; intuitive personalized technology, with an exclusive Personalization Studio; and complete sales and service transparency.
The shift from transaction focus to relationship focus has a profound impact on how a dealership facility is designed and how the customer experience is defined. Compared with other dealership facilities that are built around the products and are often cold, impersonal and cavernous, a Lincoln dealership is built around the customer, using clean, elegant designs, harmonious colors and quality materials, the company explains.
The overall effect is a warm, inviting environment that customers associate with the living room of a home or a five-star hotel lobby. Different zones and pavilions feature seating clusters where customers can relax with their family and friends.
When it comes to the vehicle maintenance process, The Lincoln Way subverts the traditional model, which customers in China mistrust. Feedback from luxury auto buyers raised concerns about being charged for unnecessary repairs, the amount of time required to complete maintenance and repair work, as well as the care given to the vehicles throughout the process.
Lincoln customers will have complete transparency throughout the process, including write-up, diagnosis and parts change. Customers can watch their vehicles serviced real-time, from the comfort of the Lincoln dealership Star Lounge, through cameras positioned in the service bays. In addition, every dealership in China will offer extended service hours and provide Lincoln loaner vehicles for repairs taking more than two hours.