In case you had any doubt, Lincoln has its sights set on the Chinese market. At the recent Detroit auto show, Ford’s luxury brand demonstrated its intentions by roping off an entire section of its show stand and reserving the space exclusively for Chinese media. In Detroit, no less.
That’s right, after a long absence from the bourgeoning automotive market, Lincoln is going to China, and the brand is developing models to cater to that market. Not exclusively of course, but Lincoln is looking to deliver a personalized brand experience for Chinese customers seeking luxury tailored to their own needs.
“Lincoln will distinguish itself by providing more individual and personalized motor cars, and a more personal and crafted experience to match,” said Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing Sales and Service, Ford Motor Company. “The Lincoln experience promises to deliver elegant simplicity, something warmer and more personally engaging.”
“Research shows that for luxury consumers in China, international credentials are not enough; heritage and excellence are also expected of a luxury car.”
Lincoln Brand’s Vision for the Future
The Lincoln stand, and its front row seating for Chinese media, demonstrates a significant step in Ford’s aggressive growth strategy for China. According to Ford, new Lincoln products will begin to be sold in the country in the second half of 2014 through an independent dealer network. The company began meeting with dealers interested in being part of Lincoln’s growth in China late last year.
“Lincoln is an important part of our plan, and introducing Lincoln in China marks the next step in our expansion in Asia and our commitment to serving customers in the luxury market,” said Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally. “We recognize the growth potential for Lincoln in China, building on the growing appeal of our new Lincoln products and unique, personalized customer experience in North America.”
The luxury segment in China is forecast to surpass the luxury segment in the United States by 2020. In China, luxury vehicle sales are expected to more than double – from 6 percent of the market today to nearly 9 percent by the end of the decade, according to IHS. Annual sales of luxury cars are forecast to be approximately 2.7 million units by then.
Luxury for an Evolving Market
Consumers in China now see luxury as more than a product, according to an intensive observation study of luxury car buyers conducted by TNS China, “Targeting luxury car drivers in China”.
The study also shows that while many affluent consumers in China are still motivated by a primary desire to display their wealth noticeably, data gathered over the last two years reveals that a select group of consumers are evolving towards purchasing luxury for the personal experience rather than as an outward signal to others. Their motivation to purchase is also led by self-discovery of products and services that meet their own unique demands, providing a high degree of self-reward in making the right choice.
“Globally, we’re seeing a new generation of luxury clients who value more individualistic and tailored options,” said Farley. “In China, the emerging luxury buyers are younger and fast-changing, and they have a strong desire to understand and appreciate the heritage of a brand- the origins of its real values such as timeless elegance, sophistication and craftsmanship in Lincoln.”