Not saying every recreational golfer in Florida over the age of 70 prefers a big, white Cadillac, just saying there might be a few.
Cadillac certainly appreciates its older clientele, but like all domestic luxury makes, it probably wouldn’t mind a few more buyers who didn’t prefer elastic-waistband jeans worn nice and high over the hip.
It’s no secret that younger customers who shop in luxury segments seem to have taken more of a shining to offshore-based makes, like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, etc.
Cadillac has already made huge demographic ground on those makes over the last decade, by introducing very edgy, modern-looking machinery. The upcoming XTS and ATS models will certainly push the median Cadillac buyer ages younger.
Lincoln, on the other hand, is still waiting for its bigger turnaround. It won’t be long in coming. Over the last 18 months Lincoln has been completely re-organized, re-staffed and re-focussed. For one thing, it now has a separate design office and staff apart from Ford, within the mothership’s sprawling facilities in Dearborn, Michigan.
And the new man heading up Lincoln design embodies pretty much what Lincoln hopes to become – Max Wolff is youngish (39), fashionable, worldly, and driven. His last gig was at GM, where he did work at Cadillac, and at GM’s design studios in Australia and Korea. The move to bring the Australian to Lincoln about 12 months ago makes perfect sense – if you want your vehicles to be hipper and younger, why not hire younger, hipper people to create them?
The personable Wolff was at the Toronto auto show this year, accompanying the Lincoln MKZ Concept.
“The MKZ concept is an indication of where we want to take the brand going forward, and it certainly doesn’t have any aesthetic link to any Lincoln of the past,” noted Wolff.
“We want to start communicating that a bit more, that Lincoln is a progressive luxury brand and we’re looking forward more so than backwards.”
Buick is another domestic luxury brand hoping to attract a younger demographic, and it also appears to be leaning on young design talent to get there.
At the Detroit auto show I met Magdelena Kokoszynsku, one of the interior designers for Buick’s new, compact crossover, called Encore.
Young and female, she seems an antithesis to what one might perceive to be the typical Buick target customer, but she begs to differ…
“Our generation doesn’t yet have that relationship (with Buick). For us, it’s almost like a fresh brand. I’ve never seen Buick as an ‘old person’ vehicle. To me, it’s new, fresh, and up and coming brand.”
Buick recruited the native New Yorker directly from art school.
Another force pushing American luxury makes forward, whether they like it or not, is the global nature of the auto industry.
They need to create vehicles that speak to luxury customers in every part of the world, and not just those white-panted golfers in the Sunshine State.