Got too much going on and feeling stretched for time? Thirty-five to 55 with annual household income upwards of $200,000? Female, perhaps? Harbor an aversion to dealing with car dealerships? (Okay, scratch that last one as obvi.) If so, Ford has a Lincoln Black Label — with soft Venetian leather or Alcantara suede — for you.
“Black Label is a $5,995 option available with the top ‘reserve’ trim level of the MKC compact crossover or MKZ mid-size sedan,” explains Alisa Priddle in the Detroit Free Press. “The extra cash buys an upgrade to some of the finest leathers, suedes and woods as well as exclusive colors.”
And that’s not all. That additional six grand “also buys a membership to the Black Label club with perks such as car detailing and washes, an extended four-year, 50,000-mile warranty, service pickups and loaner drop-offs as well as reservations and a special menu at a small group of partner restaurants.”
“Meticulously curated themes. Incredibly personal service. Lincoln Black Label,” concludes the 0:75 video that introduces the vehicle and its amenities on the new website this morning.
“We’re expecting to attract a little bit different customer than what is coming in now, a little younger and more female,” Andrew Frick, the brand’s group marketing manage, tells Bloomberg’s Keith Naughton. “The average household income would be upwards of over $200,000 versus $125,000 to $150,000 on average” for the present customers.
“A lot of this is: How can you save the customer time? The people who are 35 to 55 are very stretched right now; they’ve got a lot of things going on in their lives,” Frick also points out. “They want their experience to be effortless.”
And that means they can make their limited decisions in the relative comfort of their harried office space or overvalued residence.
“Other luxury automakers have special membership packages, but Lincoln says Black Label is unique because it caters to customers,” writes Michael Martinez in the Detroit News. “When selecting a Black Label theme, the dealer will come to the customers — at their office, home, etc. — and show them a package. Dealers will pick up the vehicle at the customer's home or workplace if it needs maintenance.”
Not only that, but “none of the four themes” — Indulgence, Oasis, Modern Heritage and Center Stage — “is customizable, so buyers don't have to make many choices. Lincoln likens that to a Neiman Marcus stylist picking out an entire outfit so customers don't have to worry about it.”
Motor Trends’ Scott Burgess recalls that he was “skeptical of the initiative a year ago when Lincoln introduced” the concept but he’s “starting to understand why Lincoln created this program….”
“It’s a story behind buying your car that you share with a friend over dinner,” he writes. “‘Oh, I didn’t even go to the dealership,’ you can say as you cut into your medium-rare, free-range, grass-fed steak. ‘They brought samples and swatches to my house, and when I did arrive at the Lincoln dealership, I sipped espressos while the dealer had my car detailed.…’”
The vehicle is an emblem of prestige for its purveyors, too. Lincoln has signed up 32 dealers in six states — New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Texas and Michigan — that account for about half of Lincoln sales in those markets, “which represent 65% of U.S. luxury vehicle sales,” Automotive News’ Bradford Wernle reports. It will go national next year.
Lincoln chose the showrooms “based on their ability to convey the warmth, richness and exceptional personal service Black Label is intended to embody,” writes WardsAuto’s Tom Murphy.
“Ford is eager to shake the image of Lincoln as a car for old people and an airport shuttle for business travelers as it tries to reverse a 65% drop in the brand’s sales from a peak in 1990, through last year,” Bloomberg’s Naughton reports.
Lincoln isn’t the only nameplate of a certain vintage trying to act younger than its age. As Karl Greenberg re-reports in today’s “Around the Net in Brand Marketing,” Cadillac, which is “moving out of Detroit to get more Big Apple hip/urban mojo,” has signed a lease for the two top floors of a building on NYC’s Hudson Street that has 14-foot ceilings.
Getting back to Lincoln Black Label, we have one question. As hot as he is at the moment, would Matthew McConaughey be able to drive sales for the Lincoln Black Label and its Venetian leather or Alcantara suede as effectively and memorably as Ricardo Montalban’s cooing endorsement of the Chrysler Cordoba, which included such classic lines as, “I request nothing beyond the thickly cushioned luxury of seats available even in soft Corinthian leather.”