Ask the question – Which global region has the highest concentration of luxury vehicles? It’s a fair guess the Middle East would be a common response. So when Alex Schaeffer, Lincoln Motor Company’s newly appointed head of the Middle East region, concludes that there are “unmet” needs in the region’s luxury car sector, it’s understandable that this bold statement might raise a few eyebrows.
Earlier this year, Lincoln hired Schaeffer with exactly that objective in mind. His mission is to re-launch Lincoln in the region. No mean feat, in what is arguably the most crowded luxury global motoring marketplace. How does he plan to tackle a task of this magnitude? Initially, Schaeffer will focus his attention on redefining the fundamentals of what constitutes luxury motoring – clarifying his vision, Schaeffer explains: “Here, Lincoln is laser focused on satisfying our clientele and providing the market with an exceptional automotive experience. We will do this by staying true to our brand pillars of quality, design and personal service.”
Schaeffer elaborates on Lincoln’s three pillars: “Quality is part of a long term investment by Lincoln and one that takes relentless amounts of effort and scrutiny to get right. We have a dedicated quality team combing through our vehicles to ensure that the products we deliver, will meet or exceed our clients’ expectations.”
In terms of design, Lincoln is determined not to cut corners: “Our Lincoln design team is a critical component of the global Lincoln success to date. Our interiors feature industry leading substrates like Alcantara and Venetian leathers, superior design and unique colour palettes.”
The third pillar, Personal Service, is the potential game changer. “The personal service brand pillar will be instrumental to our success in the region and we will be communicating that to all clients looking for a world class automotive experience.”
In theory the pillars set the framework for success but there are other challenges to overcome. Back on U.S. home soil, the company’s near century of production, the iconic “L” series of the 1920s and the Lincoln Zephyr that followed, means the badge has a presence that resonates with the target audience there. Schaeffer aims to gain traction and entice regional buyers to Lincoln, despite their familiarity with other, more established, names in the market.
“Our Global Vision for Lincoln takes a nod from several non-automotive industries. The purchase of a luxury vehicle in the Middle East is often the most expensive luxury purchase someone will make. At Lincoln we are determined to make that purchase a true luxury experience. With our dealer partners we are working to redefine what it means to shop, buy and own a luxury vehicle.”
It’s this distinct shift, by placing the emphasis on the experience of customer service exclusivity, that Schaeffer believes will redefine the concept of what a ‘luxury’ vehicle is, not just how it looks or drives, but the full customer experience from A through Z.
“The Middle East hosts some of the most discerning luxury clients in the world. They expect nothing less than perfection from a luxury experience. While this is certainly challenging it provides us with a great opportunity to deliver upon those needs,” he says. “The experience our customers can expect is where their luxury is elegant, effortlessly powerful and serene – quietly exceeding customer’s expectations, rather than being the loudest statement on the road.”
Schaeffer has high expectations for Lincoln’s performance in the region and this is reflected in the challenging sales targets he has set for his team of dealers. The next 12 months will be a critical period in the growth of Lincoln in the region, and in part is the introduction of a series of new models that Schaeffer is confident will begin a new period of prestige to match the company’s illustrious past.
“Our 98-year legacy has allowed us to reach back into our heritage and create products that are relevant to consumers today and still have that iconic star on the vehicle. Our new Navigator, the first-ever MKC and all new MKX will certainly enthuse potential customers. Our recently revealed Continental Concept in New York earlier this year, has already begun to receive positive attention and eagerness about what’s around the corner for Lincoln in the Middle East, and that will include an all-new full size luxury vehicle in 2016,” he reveals.
In essence, Schaeffer’s strategy is customer-focused. At every touch point of the process, the customers’ needs are front and centre of the overall approach – and this is what Schaeffer is confident will deliver success. “This will allow us to focus on the customers’ ‘unmet’ needs, which in turn will deliver healthy sales growth.” Schaeffer concludes.