As part of a reinvention strategy to change consumer perception about its brand and its cars, Lincoln has activated the Lincoln Experience Center, a next-generation automobile showroom that opened this summer at upscale Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA. The 5,200-square-foot space invites consumers to relax in the lounge with a beverage in a no-sales-pressure, off-the-lot environment. It’s the first of its kind for the brand.
Inside the Lincoln Experience Center, consumers can explore the brand through digital design displays, create a customized vehicle on a touch screen, take the car out for an hour or for the weekend, and connect via video chat with a dealer in their neighborhood. The focal point: a 2017 Lincoln Continental. Lincoln is also using the space for public events such as evening talks with a cheese monger and sommelier, artist installations and musical performances, which are sold out for the next few months. In addition, local organizations may host events there at no cost, a smart move that gives back to the community and introduces potential clients to Lincoln as well.
The Lincoln Experience Center is one more step in a reinvention that began five years ago and gives the brand a foothold in California’s wealthy Orange County, the third largest premium market in the U.S. The program is an extension of Lincoln Way, an investment the auto maker has made in individualized client care. It also ties into the Lincoln Black Label experience, which provides personalized shopping in the showroom, online or at a client’s home, free car washes and other member perks. Beginning this fall, Lincoln Way will include valet pickup and delivery for service appointments. More services, such as an app that provides access to parking, are on track as well.
“Any brand is built on two foundational elements: One is product and the second is experience. We want to be known for warmth, human and personally crafted experiences,” says Andrew Ashman, manager of Lincoln Sales and Service and a lead on the project. “When we put a client in a vehicle and tell them about the Lincoln story, consideration and favorable opinion of the brand jump about 30 percentage points and puts us on a par with some of the best luxury brands out there.” Agency: In-house.