For the younger luxury buyers out there, you might be surprised to know that Lincoln was a top-selling U.S. luxury brand 15 years ago. After the financial crisis and following recession Ford (NYSE:F) went through a massive restructuring and decided to focus on its core Blue Oval brand and scrapped many brands leaving only Ford and Lincoln. Ford is years away from replicating the success Lincoln had more than a decade ago, but Ford is finally in a position to put money into its luxury brand to revive the all but dead lineup. One part of its strategy is its new ultra-premium "Black Label" themes set to launch in 2014.
Lincoln's Black Label is a collection of super-premium exterior and interior themes that are designed to attract a specific consumer.
"The new Lincoln Motor Company is built on three foundational elements – design, quality and personal service; Black Label represents our highest expression of these elements," said Jim Farley, executive vice president of global marketing, sales, and service at Lincoln, in a Ford press release.
Each Black Label theme will have exclusive exterior colors and interior environments that combine into a sophisticated package to tell a story. See what I mean in the following snippet from Ford's press release:
Center Stage, inspired by fashion and theater, is designed for the most expressive clients. The Jet Black interior is highlighted by a Foxfire Red headliner, capturing the drama of being in a dark theater with the impact of a rich, deep red accent color. Alcantara suede with uniquely designed perforation adds plush texture to the doors and seats."
It's not just the flashy new look and colors that will impress consumers, but the material selection was very meticulous. The seats will be made from Venetian leather, a premium style for which less than 1% of hides globally meet requirements. Another Black Label theme, Indulgence, offers a Ziricote wood trim that has natural grain and color inherent in the wood, with no added dye or stain. What's wild about this wood trim is that it's completely new to auto consumers -- unless you also happen to own a high-end yacht, that is.
As a Ford shareholder, I understand how important Lincoln's revival is for the company. Right now if you aren't interested in a redesigned Lincoln MKZ, you don't have many options, and oftentimes consumers are walking to competitors -- even if they'd like to stay loyal to Ford. That defection shows in sales, as the Mustang outsold the entire Lincoln line last year, and the Escape more than tripled its sales.
What's great about Lincoln's luxury sales is they are incremental and don't cannibalize or compete with entry level Ford vehicles -- and they bring a higher transaction price and margins to boot. This is definitely one development that can help revive Lincoln sales when the ultra-premium Black Label themes hit the market in late 2014, and if successful, they could help boost Ford's share price even higher.