Lincoln Motor Company: Digital Media Analysis
Updated: Mar 31
This was written for CAS 840: Audience Analytics in the Michigan State University Strategic Communications MA program.
Lincoln Motor Company: Data Analysis
The Lincoln Motor Company (LMC), a division of Ford Motor Company (FMC), is an American car manufacturer that brings luxury vehicles to the market under the Lincoln brand (Crunchbase, n.d.). Headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, LMC counts BMW, Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes as competitors in the U.S. luxury car market (Mullinax Lincoln, 2020). Founded in 1917, LMC is considered widely as the “premium division of FMC (History Channel, n.d.; McCormick, 2017). LMC vehicles are manufactured in North America; the only non-U.S. market is in China (Demandt, n.d.).
Automotive Industry Trends in 2020
Industry forecasting predicts a “painfully slow” market recovery, and car makers should not expect a positive sales increase until 2021 (Mintel Executive Summary, n.d., p. 5). Still, it will take two to five years for the automotive industry to meet pre-pandemic sales (Mintel Executive Summary, n.d.). On-trend brands should monitor consumer confidence and unemployment levels as they ponder promotions and rank in the recovery process (Mintel Executive Summary, n.d.). Overall, sales recovery correlates directly to the “COVID-19 recession” (Mintel Executive Summary, n.d., p. 4).
A current SWOT analysis includes: strengths (low product, service concentration); weaknesses (low profit versus sector average, high customer class concentration, low revenue per employee, and high capital requirements); opportunities (high revenue growth, high performance drivers); and threats (low outlier growth) (Mieles, 2020). Finally, segmentation shows that crossover utility vehicles dominate the market with a 41.3 percent share—followed by passenger cars (26.1 percent), and pickup trucks (16.5 percent), and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) (8.3 percent) (Mieles, 2020).
Market Position and Competitors
In 2019, LMC ranked 0.66 in industry market share—a slight increase from 0.60 in 2018 (Demandt, n.d.). LMC increased their growth in 2019 by 8.32% through a total of 112,204 sold cars—an 8.3 percent increase from 2018’s 103,587 (Demandt., n.d.; Johnson, 2020). As of June 2020, the brand had sold 21,281 vehicles (Demandt, n.d.). In 2019, there were 279 LMC dealers worldwide (Ford, 2020). LMC and Ford’s segment includes vehicles, service parts, accessories—as well as manufacturing, distribution, and service cost (Ford, 2020). LMC total revenue for 2020, in Q3, totals $3.7 billion (Zoom Info, n.d.). Cadillac is commonly considered a direct rival of LMC in the American luxury market, and both battle for prestige and respect among luxury car buyers (Priddle, 2019). Other competitors include BMW and Infiniti (Ryan, 2018).
In 2019, the average price of Lincoln model was $51,044 (Statista, n.d.a).
Share of the market (SOM)
Market share, as a percentage, frames total sales within an industry generated by a specific brand—a metric useful when positing a picture of the brand in relation to the market and to competitors (Hayes, 2020). In a comparison with BMW and Lexus, LMC ranks last, with a SOM of 15.78 percent (Table 1). BMW more than doubles the nearest competitor, Cadillac, by 23.69 percent. BMW’s brand, which also includes the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, experienced double-digit growth in China and Germany during 2019 (Begley, 2019). Infinity, the luxury division of Nissan, primarily sells in the American region (with 24 percent of market share in Asia) (Focus 2 Move, 2019).
The average Infiniti vehicle in 2020 is estimated at $48,742 (Statista, n.d.b); however, the brand experienced a slump in Q3 2019, dropping forty-four percent compared to the previous year (Healey, 2019). Similar to LMC, Infiniti division only ranked 0.78 higher than LMC. Second place Cadillac, at 21.98 benefits from a higher average price, $67,418 (Statista, n.d.c.). Thus, at a higher price point, Cadillac can sell fewer vehicles but earn higher market share within the industry.
In the race among both domestic and foreign luxury brands, LMC has suffered from image, credibility, and relevance over the past decade. Nebulous brand positioning (“American luxury” versus “European luxury”) has not helped define the brand for consumers (Light, 2019, p. 2). The brand revamped its lineup to reflect simply American luxury—not an “American version of European luxury” (Martinez, 2019; Thibodeau, 2018, p. 18).
Joy Falotico, LMC Chief Marketing Officer and President, stated that the brand is akin to a “luxury boutique” rather than a luxury shopping mall (as cited in Martinez, 2019, p. 5). LMC’s recent product lineup refresh should stimulate buzz while enhancing tech-friendly function. LMC’s disadvantage is brand heuristics versus luxury brands perceived to be of a higher caliber. LMC must shake the perception that their vehicles are “re-badged Fords” (Korn, 2019, p. 3).
Share of Digital Spending
Display ads are placed on sites throughout the Internet, and search ads ping results on search engine response pages (SERPS) (Sagin, 2019). BMW is the leader in share of digital spending; thus, leadership is focusing on search results to drive sales. LMC spent more on display ads, so these ads will show up when car shoppers might not be shopping. The difference in approach serves to promote brand awareness and increase visibility—and they are less costly to parent company Ford Motors. LMC’s use of celebrity influence is particularly notable with campaigns feature actor Matthew McConaughey.
LMC exists as the bottom of the pack among luxury competitors, despite showing the second largest percent of digital spending. If the spending is average for the market, and LMC is no where near competitive posturing, then the brand should reconsider and revamp digital strategies. The company’s attempt to reclaim market share and prestige-positioning—with a product revamp focusing on the SUV market—merits a pivot. LMC Engineer John Jraiche described the demographic as “cultural progressives who want space as sanctuary” (as cited in Finlay, 2019). LMC Corsair Marketing Manager Gretchen Sauer said the brand is targeting “active achievers” (as cited in The News Wheel, 2019).
The newly designed LMC vehicles appeal to consumers who are modern and tech savvy; thus, the digital approach should stay in the same lane.
In 2019, the total value of digital asset management (DAM) exceeded $3.4 billion—a figured poised to increase in the near future as more firms utilize DAM to fortify reach, engagement, and desired behavior patterns (Business Wire, 2019). Unilaterally, LinkedIn is the least successful platform for the luxury car market, and Facebook is the most popular. Clearly, BMW dwarfs the competitors in digital asset presence.
This reach is congruent with BMW’s overall percent of digital spending: a brand gets what it pays for, so to speak. If LMC’s CEO desires a “boutique” positioning, then the brand’s digital asset share of community certainly represents this side-corner digital posture. But, as evidenced from digital spending and assets, niche positioning does not equate to large market share.
If LMC leadership wants to accelerate the brand, they must put the pedal to the metal with new digital strategies.
Begley, E. (2019, June 13). BMW group continues to grow sales and market share in May. BMW Group. https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0297083EN/bmw-group-continues-to-grow-sales-and-market-share-in-may?language=en
Business Wire. (2020, April 9). Digital asset management (DAM) market report, 2020-2025—Analysis by type, component, application, deployment, organization size, end-use sector and region—Researchandmarkets.com. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200409005305/en/Digital-Asset-Management-DAM-Market-Report-2020-2025---Analysis-by-Type-Component-Application-Deployment-Organization-Size-End-use-Sector-and-Region---ResearchAndMarkets.com
Cadillac. (n.d.c.). Statista. https://www.statista.com/outlook/1000026/100/cadillac/worldwide
Car and Driver. (n.d.). Car Lincoln https://www.caranddriver.com/lincoln
Demandt, B. (n.d.). Lincoln U.S. sales figures. Car Sales Base. https://carsalesbase.com/us-lincoln/
Finlay, S. (2019, October 11). 2020 Lincoln Corsair (quietly) enters the market. Wards Auto. https://www.wardsauto.com/test-drives/2020-lincoln-corsair-quietly-enters-market
Focus 2 Move. (2019, April 11). Infinity 2018. https://www.focus2move.com/infiniti-global/
Ford. (2020, February 5). Form 10-K. Retrieved from https://sec.report/Document/0000037996-20-000010/
Ford buys Lincoln. (n.d.). History Channel. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ford-buys-lincoln
Hayes, A. (2020, July 17). Market share. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/marketshare.asp
Healey, T. (2019, October 4). Infiniti sales slump leaves brand stumped. TTAC. https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/10/infinitis-sales-slump-is-a-bit-alarming-even-among-a-month-of-declines-across-the-board/
Infinity. (n.d.b). Statista. https://www.statista.com/outlook/1000080/100/infiniti/worldwide#market-volume
Johnson, K. (2020, January 7). Lincoln 2019 sales up 8 percent. The News Wheel. https://thenewswheel.com/lincoln-2019-sales-results-united-states/
Korn, M. (2019, October 5). Not your dad’s Lincoln: Brand’s new vehicles are hip, luxurious, and in demand. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Business/dads-lincoln-brands-vehicles-hip-luxurious-demand/story?id=66049730
Light, L. (2019, September 9). What is the Lincoln auto brand? Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/larrylight/2019/09/09/what-is-the-lincoln-auto-brand/#6502f17efa19
Lincoln. (n.d.a). Statista. https://www.statista.com/outlook/1000099/100/lincoln/worldwide
Lincoln. (n.d.). Zoom Info. https://www.zoominfo.com/c/lincoln/30082062
Lincoln Motor Company. (n.d.). Crunchbase.
Martinez, M. (2019, April 22). Lincoln reimagined as a ‘luxury boutique.’ Automotive News. https://www.autonews.com/sales/lincoln-reimagined-luxury-boutique
McCormick, J. (2017, May 23). Why Lincoln probes customer minds to drive sales. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmccormick/2017/05/23/why-lincoln-probes-customer-minds-to-drive-sales/#7930d5b6a780
Mieles, C. (2020, July). Global car & automobile sales. [Global specialized industry report]. IBISWorld. https://my-ibisworld-com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/gl/en/industry/f4111-gl/industry-at-a-glance
Mintel. (n.d.). Car purchasing process: Including impact of COVID-19-US-July 2020. Retrieved September 10 from https://reports-mintel-com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/display/987118/?fromSearch=%3Ffreetext%3Dautomotive#
Mullinax Lincoln. (2020, February 10). 8 fun facts about the Lincoln Motor Company. https://www.mullinaxlincolnonline.com/blog/2020/february/10/8-fun-facts-about-the-lincoln-motor-company-mullinax-lincoln-automotive-in-cleveland-tn.htm
Priddle, A. (2019, September 4). Cadillac vs. Lincoln: The battle for the soul of American luxury. MotorTrend. https://www.motortrend.com/news/cadillac-vs-lincoln-the-battle-for-the-soul-of-american-luxury/
Ryan, C. (2018, November 21). 10 Lincoln Continental competitors to consider. AutoBytel. https://www.autobytel.com/luxury-cars/car-buying-guides/10-lincoln-continental-competitors-to-consider-133079/
Sagin, E. (2019, July 17). Search vs display: Which Google ads network should you use? Word Stream. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/05/20/google-adwords-search-versus-display
The News Wheel. (2019, September 30). Lincoln Corsair marketing. Manager Gretchen Sauer knows the youth. The News Wheel. https://thenewswheel.com/lincoln-corsair-marketing-manager-gretchen-sauer/
Thibodeau, I. (2018, March 28). Lincoln amps up design with Aviator reboot. The Detroit News. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/ford/2018/03/28/lincoln-new-aviator-debuts-new-york-auto-show/33347423/ #DigitalMedia #Communications #BrandResearch #ConsumerResearch #MediaAnalytics