Harley Davidson has led the heavyweight motorcycle market in recent years, capturing about 55% of the market, according to James R. Hagerty's article in The Wall Street Journal (Hagerty, 2011). But following the economic downturn, which had a negative effect on sales, and other market issues, the iconic motorcycle company needs to beef up sales and in addition the company is looking for ways to appeal to younger enthusiasts, to Latinos, and to female riders. This paper will serve as a memorandum to the marketing director at Harley Davidson, Mark-Hans Richer, offering suggestions and strategies to increase market share.
Memorandum to Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Director of Consumer Segment Marketing:
To Mark-Hans Richer:
Clearly, as you are well aware, Mark-Hans Richer, there is a need for Harley Davidson to have the vision, the desire, the needed grasp on market dynamics and the energy to embrace new strategies and bring on a new phase. We're anticipating an exciting new outreach phase in our development that can provide the company with not just additional buyers and higher revenue, but to create a new image in the process of this needed expansion.
Everyone familiar with this market knows that Harley Davidson has as its highest priority, "…reaching customers in new demographic segments" (Redwine, 2010). The Dealer News press notice explains that you will direct marketing "…for all core and outreach consumer segments within North America, with a special focus on women, young adults and diverse markets" (Redwine).
Harley Davidson's Traditional Targeting and Positioning Strategy
We know that traditionally, when a big, loud, beefy motorcycle rolls by on an otherwise quiet city street, a passerby expects to see a 30-or-40-something male at the wheel, likely wearing a thick black leather jacket (with a biker club logo on the back), myriad tattoos, aviator sunglasses, engineer boots and a headband under the helmet. But in order to increase sales, the company needs to not escape from but provide alternative images to this stereotypical biker.
University of British Columbia marketing professor Paul Cubbon notes that there are several motorcycle brands that are in the same category as Harley Davidson, and if all those companies make the obvious marketing choices, they "merge into one another, and at best, promote the category, most likely benefiting the existing brand leader," which is of course Harley Davidson (Cubbon, 2012).
Meanwhile, the traditional marketing efforts for our 108-year-old company have been towards the 40-year-old male who still has some wild oats to sow. But sales have slumped and not just because of the recession, but because older people are getting older and because, as James Hagerty writes in the Wall Street Journal, "…many young people can't afford its premium prices" (Hagerty).
What is the Brand Personality of Harley Davidson?
It is my opinion that the brand personality in years past has been very closely linked to males and to testosterone-fueled highway fun in the wild blue yonder. Like it or not, the image that goes with the Harley Davidson motorcycle brand is powerfully male and drenched in machismo. In fact, up until recent years, the Harley Davidson image was unfortunately linked to Hell's Angels, a violent gang that was known for drug and alcohol abuse, and for creating carnage in small quiet towns that had insufficient law enforcement resources to arrest them. Apart from the radical image of the Hell's Angels -- and other rowdy biker groups -- for old white male-dominated images to change, the company must first of all bring females into the fold, and secondly Harley Davidson must appeal to minorities, including Latinos, which the marketing strategies have a focus on at this time.
What animal could be identified with or linked to Harley Davidson?
You may disagree with me Mr. Richer, but the first wild critter that comes to mind vis-a-vis the old Harley Davidson image is a wild boar. This is relevant because a big Harley Davidson has always been known as a "hog." In Todd Triplett's book about wild boar hunting, the author explains that a wild boar can reach 40 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 450 pounds. Wild boars "…are very intelligent animals, a trait that helps them adapt easily to new surroundings" (Triplett, 2004, p. 14). In fact the only animal group known to be more intelligent than wild boars…