Lincoln is steadily growing apart from Ford in the recent years of the two brands’ partnership. The next phase in consolidating Lincoln as an independent luxury brand lies in the American automaker urging its dealers to build stand-alone showrooms that showcase the luxury appeal of the brand.
This move is a departure from Lincoln’s earlier strategy of consolidating with Ford. The new game plan consists of erecting 150 exclusive dealerships in the 30 biggest luxury markets. 70 percent of American luxury vehicle sales come from these key markets, which is where Lincoln wants to establish itself as an independent maker of premium cars and SUVs.
The company quoted several studies which clearly showed that buyers preferred a high-end space when shopping for a luxury vehicle. The company’s own inside research also shows that Lincoln’s existing exclusive dealerships record higher sales than the ones that share floor space with Ford. In an interview with Automotive News, Robert Parker, Director of marketing sales, and service at Lincoln said, “Customers expect the environment to be equal to the product. They want to buy a luxury product in a luxury environment.
Close to half of the Ford-Lincoln dealerships in the specified markets have built, or are in the process of building exclusive Lincoln showrooms. Lincoln has also launched an incentive program for dealers encouraging the remaining ones to build stand-alone showrooms or at least commit to doing so by July 2019. The incentive program is not compulsory. Dealers can choose to opt for the stand-alone showrooms or continue with the Ford-Lincoln arrangement. Lincoln is distributing incentives only to those who do go ahead with the exclusive stores. Such dealers will get help from the automaker in finding suitable property and will receive fatter bonuses for each sale through the new dealership.
In a bid to further push the premium image of the new showrooms, Lincoln is calling them Vitrine. The French word for window or glass display is echoed in the signature design esthetic of its stand-alone showrooms. The facade will be pure glass from floor to ceiling to show off nighttime illumination of the vehicles. The cars themselves will sit on floors that are built to look like runways with floor lights on either side of the display. Instead of a desk and chairs in the individual meeting rooms, pavilions will host couches and TVs for a truly luxurious buying experience.
Lincoln has kicked off the incentive program at just the right time since it has a slew of products slated for launch through 2019. The brand’s higher visibility through a premium retail space will play well for its future products, like the Nautilus which will replace the MKX later this year and the three-row Aviator which will be launched in 2019.