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Detroit Free Press
Lincoln is signaling a desire to go beyond being just a car company and evolve into a luxury lifestyle brand like Porsche that reflects core values of its consumers in an effort to contribute to an overall happier life.
A recently launched Lincoln feature promises to help reduce anxiety and stress, improve sleep, enhance personal performance, develop gratitude and build self-esteem. All of this is available with a popular Calm program through the Lincoln Way app.
Calm may be used in the car, on a mobile phone or tablet. It comes at no cost for one year to all Lincoln owners of 2000 models or newer in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Calm is an established app for mental health and fitness, known for its short, guided meditations and sleep stories. While it’s available to the public for purchase, Michael Sprague, director of Lincoln North America, decided to offer the feature to all Lincoln drivers after discovering the benefits on his own at home.
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“It’s been a part of our lives for awhile. One of my sons still uses it every night. He’s 12. You wind down the day, listen to stories and it kind of helps decompress and go to sleep,” he told the Free Press.
Sounds may include relaxing nature soundscapes like rainfall, ocean waves and wind blowing through trees. Sleep Stories are especially popular and narrated by notable people including Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey.
“This is a unique collaboration. No one else in the automotive space is doing something like this. For me, it goes back to our brand. What’s core to us is mindfulness and the well-being of our client, so they feel revitalized at every touch point,” Sprague said.
The coronavirus pandemic has created challenges that make this app especially important, he said. “When we did our pilot study with Calm, people were getting into the vehicle and spending about 3 minutes just practicing mindfulness. It helped them focus. People pause before they start the day, going back into the world.”
It can be used for boating and camping, too, he said.
Now available to Lincoln customers, this special feature follows a pilot project in 2019 involving 1,500 consumers in various cities that showed a 97% approval, Lincoln said.
‘Put me right to sleep’
Kristen Grimske, 30, a marketing business consultant from metro Detroit, owns a 2020 Corsair and her husband drives a 2017 MKZ. She said the Calm app is especially helpful during the workday. She paid for it prior to the Lincoln offer.
“I don’t think this could come at a better time,” Grimske said. “There’s a really quick 2-minute meditation and 2-minute concentration features. Usually we’re pretty busy in the morning. At night, it started to put me right to sleep. There’s so much stress people have right now. To have that moment, and a little reminder in your day to take a break and focus on yourself and how you’re doing mentally, is key. To do it before you go on a drive, it’s calming.”
While it is known for meditation, Calm offers much more, noted reviewer Jess Carpenter. “Calm also has sessions for how to train your mind to focus, like the one led by LeBron James.” She said the app “made a difference” in her productivity and anxiety levels.
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While Calm has a seven-day freetrial, Lincoln drivers get a year. A premium Calm membership costs $69.99 annually.
Lincoln engaged neuroscientist Nkechi Deanna Njaka, who trained at the University of Edinburgh and now is a mindfulness meditation guide based in San Francisco.
“Whether you’re late to a meeting or your computer is not working or there’s a long line at Starbucks, it’s very easy for us to get into a space of flight or fight or freeze. That’s linked to our stress response and can activate a tightness or surge of adrenaline in the body,” Njaka said.
“When we bring our attention to something like breath or sensation, presence becomes more of a physiological thing,” she said. “When we are meditating, we’re bringing attention to what is, and that engages our parasympathetic nervous system, which naturally brings the body into a state of rest and restoration. This supports our immune system and our overall health and well-being.”
In addition to meditation, as part of the collaboration between the two companies, Lincoln owners may qualify for a Calm gravity blanket, a sleep mask or sleep mist.
Omar Dawood, chief medical officer at Calm, told the Free Press, “People worldwide are turning to resilience and mindfulness tools more than ever before to support in managing stress, anxiety and sleep. We’ve seen an uptick in both our downloads and usage at Calm. Research has shown that mindfulness practices improve focus and reduce anger, which is imperative as drivers get back on the road.”
Auto industry analyst Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, a car listing and data site, said Lincoln is reflecting an interesting industry trend.
“One thing European luxury brands have done successfully over the last 15 years is tie their brand to lifestyle,” he said. “They’ve expanded beyond selling cars to selling lifestyle to their customers. You can buy a Porsche, drive off the lot and now you’ll be included in track days and training, access to historic models. You go from being an owner of a Porsche to a complete guru and enthusiast with a credible claim to living that lifestyle. This, with Lincoln, is a mental health and relaxation process. If you’re part of Lincoln, they don’t just sell you a car but a lifestyle that includes access to calming and stress reducing tools.”
Lincoln hosted a virtual conversation about wellness with participation from Calm and goop, the lifestyle advice site, on Aug. 12 in honor of National Relaxation Day.
McConaughey, a longtime Lincoln spokesman, took part in that discussion.
“The one gift that we can all give ourselves is a moment to help us find our balance,” he said in a Lincoln news release. “Life is certainly stressful enough these days, so whether it’s being more mindful, taking five minutes for yourself before the drive home to decompress after a long day or just being kinder, continue to look after yourself and those around you.”
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