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ldquoIt seems some luxury brands have become bigbox retailers ndash efficient and soullessrdquo
<p> <strong>&ldquo;It seems some luxury brands have become big-box retailers &ndash; efficient (and) soulless.&rdquo;</strong></p>

Ford’s Global Marketing Chief Offers Glimpse of Lincoln’s Future

Developing relevant products is as important to Lincoln&rsquo;s reinvention as personalizing the dealership experience, but huge volumes are not necessary to build a credible luxury brand, says Jim Farley.

DETROIT – Jim Farley, group vice president-global marketing, sales and service, says Lincoln dealers have been instructed on the changes to their stores Ford expects them to make to help the auto maker reinvent the brand.

Providing a personal touch is key, he says, maintaining many mainstream luxury auto makers have lost sight of this basic tenet.

“There seems to be a contest over who can add the most vehicles to their line and build the most extravagant dealerships,” Farley says following the reveal of the Lincoln MKZ concept at the North American International Auto Show here.

But many luxury customers are wondering what happened to “the personal connection, the individual touch,” Farley says. “It seems some luxury brands have become big-box retailers – efficient (and) soulless.”

To this end, Lincoln dealers will be required to offer Lincoln loaner vehicles to customers and add support personnel. Farley says there will be a 2-person team to serve every Lincoln client for both sales and service.

Additionally, dealers will deliver new vehicles to the customer’s home, and service bays will have cameras installed so owners can watch their vehicles being worked on remotely via wireless device.

“These are small but important steps for a different, personalized experience, and it has to be consistent across all of our dealerships,” Farley says.

Ford has spent several years scaling back the number of Lincoln dealerships. Farley declines to reveal how many dealers still are in operation, but says the auto maker is focusing on 130 markets.

Company officials have said the Lincoln MKZ concept offers a glimpse of the brand’s future design direction and confirmed a production version will be coming to market. Farley adds that future Lincoln models will have push-button transmissions and full-glass panoramic roofs.

Developing relevant products is as important to the brand’s reinvention as is the dealership experience, but he says huge volumes are not necessary to build a credible luxury brand. Competitors’ stores that sell 2,000-3,000 units a year can’t provide the personal experience that “you can when you’re selling 100 a month.”

Farley nixes any notion Lincoln is going to do away with its controversial naming strategy that requires each model to have an “MK” designation.

“We’d rather spend our resources on the products than building name awareness for new products,” he says. “What I’ve learned in my career is it’s about the product, not the name.”

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