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Lincoln opened its first three stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou today, officially unveiling The Lincoln Way, a unique new automotive ownership experience for Chinese luxury customers.
“The launch of The Lincoln Way and our first Lincoln stores in China marks an important milestone for Lincoln’s reinvention as a global luxury automotive brand,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln. “The Lincoln Way demonstrates how a storied brand with a nearly 100-year history is innovating for our Chinese customers while staying true to our roots of personal service. Our Lincoln customers will not only get the very best when it comes to product, but also when it comes to the entire ownership experience.”
In addition to these first three locations, Lincoln will open five more Lincoln stores in China by year’s end, and a total of 60 stores in 50 cities in China by 2016. The Lincoln Way will be embedded in all Lincoln stores in China.
The Lincoln Way will serve today’s younger and more discerning luxury customers who value individuality. Through Lincoln’s specially trained staff, customers will experience a warmer, more engaging purchasing and ownership experience personally crafted to their individual needs and desires.
The Lincoln Way was developed over three years and is based on research across luxury retailing experiences from different sectors, including hospitality. Key elements of The Lincoln Way include a dedicated Lincoln Team; 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 Lincoln stores in China will first offer the all-new MKC small premium utility vehicle and the MKZ midsize premium sedan. The Lincoln MKZ and MKC will be followed by the Lincoln MKX, the Lincoln Navigator and an all-new full-size luxury sedan, fulfilling the brand’s promise to bring five new vehicles to China by 2016.
“The launch of the Lincoln Way in China is the result of our global team researching a wide array of luxury brands,” said Robert Parker, president of Lincoln China. “After extensive concept testing with luxury consumers, a comprehensive customer experience was developed defining the ‘Lincoln Way.’ We believe the resulting customer experience will reshape luxury automotive ownership in China today.
“We are humbled by the efforts our first three partners are putting forth sharing our vision of The Lincoln Way. Their experience in the luxury automotive industry and excellence in customer service represent the winning combination we believe customers will appreciate.”
The Lincoln Way meets the needs of today’s new luxury customer in China
The Lincoln team spent the last three years establishing a deep understanding of the new luxury automotive customer in China. This included extensive quantitative and qualitative deep-dives into luxury customer segmentations as well as behavior models and expectations.
“Our extensive study of the new luxury customer in China revealed a unique opportunity for Lincoln in the luxury auto market,” said Parker. “As a new brand entering the market in China, Lincoln has a great opportunity to differentiate itself by combining great products with a new way of purchasing and owning a luxury vehicle.”
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 unique individuality.
Based on these insights, the Lincoln team took the unprecedented step of building a fully functioning prototype dealer facility in Shanghai a year ago to research, test and refine every aspect of the Lincoln customer journey throughout the purchase and ownership process.
Redefining luxury automotive ownership in China
The Lincoln Way is how Lincoln sells and services its vehicles and how Lincoln customers experience the brand. It completely shifts luxury automotive ownership from a sales-and-service transaction model to an experience model.
A Lincoln dealership is built around the customer, using clean elegant designs, harmonious colors and quality materials. The overall effect is a warm, inviting environment that customers associate with the living room of a home or a five-star boutique hotel lobby. There are different zones and pavilions with seating clusters where customers can relax with their family and friends.
In line with this customer-centric dealership environment is a transparent sales and service experience that aims to surprise and delight. Different from a traditional transaction-model dealership where the purchase experience is all about making the sale, the purchase experience at the Lincoln dealership is designed around building a relationship with the customer and understanding his or her needs. Attentive and intuitive staff gauge when to allow for self-exploration and when to provide assistance.
At Lincoln dealerships, each customer has a dedicated team to ensure personalized service tailored to the customer’s individual needs is consistently delivered throughout the ownership experience.
At the core of The Lincoln Way is the Lincoln Team, led by the Host, the Master and the Craftsman, team members specially chosen and rigorously trained by The Lincoln Institute.
The Host tailors the customer’s experience and maintains the customer relationship throughout the ownership process. If more detailed information is desired, the Host introduces the customer to the Master.
The Master serves as the customer’s trusted resource during the sales process, providing information, advice and recommendations based on the customer’s needs. The sequence of information and level of detail is tailored to the guest’s needs and interests.
The Craftsman serves as the customer’s personal contact for service and maintenance. He maintains a full record of the vehicle and thoroughly explains any maintenance process. If requested, used parts are returned, packaged in a Lincoln box and tagged with a label, extraction date and the name of a service technician.
Personalization Studio: In every Lincoln store, the high-tech Personalization Studio features a 46-inch interactive LCD touch screen that projects a near life-size image of the vehicle. This allows customers, through controls on a nearby table, to visually explore the entire array of models, colors and features and configure the desired vehicle both inside and out before making a selection.
Personalized test-drive routes: Lincoln guests are able to make test-drive appointments of a specific model and available powertrain online or at any Lincoln dealership. Test-drive routes also are tailored to each guest’s personal needs.
Transparent maintenance and repair process: The Lincoln Way subverts the traditional vehicle-maintenance model, which customers in China distrust Lincoln customers have complete transparency throughout the process, including write-up, diagnosis and parts change. Customers also can watch their vehicles serviced real time, from the comfort of the Lincoln dealership Star Lounge, through the E-Console linked to cameras positioned in the service bays. In addition, every Lincoln store in China offers extended service hours and provides Lincoln loaner vehicles for repairs taking more than two hours.
Lincoln Automotive Financial Services
Financing also is an important part of the Lincoln luxury experience in China. Lincoln Automotive Financial Services, a financing organization dedicated to serving Lincoln customers and dealers in China, launched on Oct. 23 and supports Lincoln dealers and customers by providing competitive financing products and exceptional service.