Ford - Eight Inc.

Ford.
From dealership to new luxury lifestyle..

Introduction

When Ford Motor Company decided to bring Lincoln to China, they asked Eight Inc. to help develop a new customer experience for the premium brand.

Ford originally asked us to propose a new dealership design, but we soon realized there was a much larger opportunity here. As a new brand entering the Chinese market, Lincoln had the chance to differentiate itself by creating a new way of experiencing, buying and owning a luxury vehicle. Our challenge was to define a new branded experience for China ahead of Lincoln USA’s rebranding efforts. To make Lincoln relevant again, but this time to a younger Chinese luxury consumer. Our advantage was that Lincoln’s brand awareness in China was relatively low, so there was a huge opportunity to create something new and distinctive, as well as influence the brand’s global transformation.

The Lincoln Concours (our version of a dealership) launched in October 2014, with 3 sites opening in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou. Within their first month of operation, these locations became the top performing dealerships worldwide.

The Lincoln Ecosystem

The Lincoln Ecosystem provides an alternative to China’s traditional 4S dealership.

Prior to the arrival of 4S dealerships in the early 2000s, cars in China were purchased at a big lot where independent sellers brought a variety of cars to sell. There was no guarantee that a vehicle was actually the model or in the condition the seller claimed it to be. The 4S Dealership set new standards for the Chinese car-buying market.

As we began to better understand the challenges and frustrations of 4S dealerships, we realized that this model was being increasingly challenged by zoning restrictions, distance, travel time and space. We expanded our thinking to envision what other built environments would better respond to the evolution of Chinese cities and the evolution of the Chinese consumer. As a result, our design solution included not only a new model for the Lincoln dealership – the Lincoln Concours – but a new Lincoln Ecosystem, a strategic approach to increase visibility and access to our customers. By creating different channels, each with a specific size and role within the larger ecosystem, we are able to build brand presence and perceived scale in a new market, as well as more relevant touchpoints for our guests.

The Lincoln Way

Rooted in the notion of great residential hospitality and a “one size fits one” approach, the Lincoln experience is a completely new automobile experience.

Lincoln China came to us with a clean slate, an opportunity to define the brand anew in a place void of preconceptions. Instead of starting with something completely fresh and potentially disjointed from the brand, we took this opportunity to go back and determine what really made Lincoln successful in the past. What came out of this search was the deep loyalty Lincoln customers had to their dealers. Even when the product was taking a hit, people still bought Lincoln ‘because they loved their dealers’. Rekindling this ‘love’ became our goal. The design of the new Lincoln China Customer Experience, the space, and all that supports it focuses on developing a relationship with each individual customer. We call this the Lincoln Way.

Based on consumer insights drawn from the extensive research conducted by Ford’s research team, we designed much of the experience to fulfill the unmet needs of Chinese consumers and solve for their common pain points. One of our main objectives was to eliminate, as much as possible, the sales pressure and discomfort car dealerships are notorious for. Here, a warm welcome and understanding of your specific needs comes before sizing up your wallet and intent to buy. The Lincoln Way is based on personalized hospitality, exceeding luxury expectations by simply being personal.

Lincoln Concours

Much more than a new and improved dealership design, the Lincoln Concours introduces a new staffing model, new behaviors and ways of engaging with Lincoln guests to deliver a new experience.

When we began to design the Lincoln Concours, we did not go through a traditional programming phase. There was no list of requirements nor typical building footprint we were to adhere to. Instead, we began by developing a framework for the ideal customer journey – defining what we wanted the Lincoln guest to experience and what we wanted them to feel. We then set out to design an environment that would enable these experiences and emotions to occur.

Trust and transparency were key elements we sought to achieve, as these surfaced as the largest issues facing Chinese consumers. Allowing the customer to feel in control of the situation, by making them comfortable, at ease, and giving them the tools to make informed decisions, makes the act of purchasing a car much more enjoyable (and probable) than what is often perceived as a stressful and unpleasant experience.

The first three Concours sites opened in October 2014 and quickly became the top performing dealerships worldwide. 2015 marked the first full year of sales for Lincoln China. They exceeded their expansion plans with over 30 dealerships built and over 11,000 cars sold.

We continue to work with Lincoln to explore new ways to engage their customers and expand the Lincoln Ecosystem.