The younger crowd may be more attracted by the dangerousness of the bikes and by the sense of adventure involved. Older groups seek a certain return to youth and show an adherence to the idea of freedom. The motorcycle at one time had the aura of an outlaw lifestyle, as noted, an image that the company has not sought and often seeks to counter. Still, that image remains strong and does appeal to many people. This does not mean that riders are outlaws or even that they really want to be outlaws, but they do buy into that image as a way of escaping from their normal lives into a different cultural experience when they ride on weekends. This idea has appealed for dome time to urban professionals who ride motorcycles on weekends and holidays for pleasure, sometimes alone and more often in groups of business people seeking to get away for a few hours and using not only the motorcycle but the image for that purpose. Whether women respond specifically to that same impetus or are instead more attracted by some other aspect of the experience should be researched as a way of shaping the message to appeal directly to what appeals to them. Evidence shows that a sense of personal freedom is one part of the appeal, as is a desire on the part of business women to be part of the scene that appeals to their male colleagues and that they may also perceive as a rite of passage for them in the business world. That can be the appeal to women in certain situations, but it is not the broad appeal that is needed to increase the number of riders by a significant amount.
Currently, statistics show that one out of ten riders is a woman, and women constitute the one growing segment in the industry. U.S. sales of motorcycles have been down at least since 2005, and efforts to attract more women have been successful, though the growth potential is much greater than has been tapped as yet.
Studies show that the typical rider is a male in his late thirties, married, college educated, and earns over $44 thousand per year. Studies further note that female riders make up over 9% of the total market and that the number of women motorcyclists has more than doubled in the last ten years, while the total quantity of all registrations has increased by only 42% (Hostetler, 2002, p. 3). For most of the last 80 yeas or so, advertising for motorcycles has appealed to young men and has at the same time discouraged women fro buying and riding a motorcycle. At most, women were depicted as passengers sitting behind the male, an image that has had to change in the era after feminism gained ground and suggested a different vision had be featured in advertising and promotions. Another element that mitigated against female ridership was the design of the motorcycle itself, with tall set heights, handlebars and control levers requiring a wide reach, and heavy motorcycles, all elements that prevented many women from becoming riders. Those design elements have been changed for a product like the Sportster, which appeals to women because it is more their size and also has controls they can use with greater facility. Motorcycling in America is more for sport and leisure, and women have wanted to be part of this movement and to join the men. The newer motorcycles allow them to do so. Cost is less of a barrier and is in fact an appeal in many cases:
This new perception of motorcycles led to the introduction of more expensive models with higher prices. This may explain much of why women with higher than average incomes make up much of the female market (Hostetler, 2002, p. 5).
To reach this target audience, the message has to be shaped to appeal and to convey the information desired. The conventional marketing communication mix includes tools such as research, product or service packaging, pricing, distribution, promotion and advertising, sales, budgeting and campaign monitoring. These communications tools could be applied to any product. The intent would be to convey information and image to the consuming public.
First, it is important to send a single compelling message. Consider this in terms of product packaging, which for a motorcycle would be the image that is the central issue in communication. It is important to focus every word, visual, and sound of the campaign on one core idea, and this idea could be embodied in a mascot such as an animated character, a visual that could be reproduced on products, in advertising, on television, and -- if given a voice -- on the radio.
Research is an important tool so that you can develop a clearly defined target market for your communication. This means knowing who the primary customers are as well as knowing their key consumer motivations. For a motorcycle, this includes such things as freedom, recreation, personal achievement, and so on.
Advertising and promotion used for this product must be directed at the most effective medium. It is important to reach the target consumers through the most cost-effective communication and distribution channels within reach. This means not only what you can afford, but what will reach the target consumer. This means further research to match the motivations of the consumer with the communications means echoing those motivations-- shows on radio and television, for instance, or newspapers and magazines read by the target population, and today websites that are accessed by this population.
Campaign monitoring begins when the other means of communication are being formed, meaning that the team needs to know beforehand what measurement of success will be used in the monitoring process. How you define success will determine how you judge the communications you use and determine what works and what does not. Among the possible measures are sales, inquiries, revenues, or inventory turnover for products. Changes in these areas would signal success or failure of the marketing communication campaign.
Values are something we talk a good deal about as a general concept, but we do not examine the issue as closely as we might and do not examine the term itself for its meaning, its implications, and its worth. Values are the criteria by which we judge our actions and the actions of others and by which we make decisions. In a social setting, there are shared criteria which are identified as societal values, and values from different groups to which we belong may clash, just as the values of a group may conflict with our own personal values. Values are not absolutes and are not universals, for they differ from one society to another and even one social setting to another. In terms of consumer behavior, we make consumer decisions based on our value systems, and the values shared by the majority thus determine the buying patterns of the majority. Marketers take these values into account knowing that the closer to these values they can come with a product or service, the better that product or service will do in the marketplace. The values of import in the marketing of the Harley-Davidson have long been quality, power, freedom, community, and image.
Marketers should consider the core values of the consumer, and in America, these values are ascertained by various means by marketers. Earlier mass-marketing strategies included various means of ascertaining demographic information concerning how buying habits were governed by the consumers' sex, income, education, occupation, and other characteristics, and marketers also tried to divide the purchasing world into groups according to social class. These mass-market strategies are now considered crude and overly general, and a new approach is called psychographics and includes benefit probes, role-playing, and photo collages along with large-scale psychographic segmentation. Some core values seem always to have an effect, however, among them a sense of personal freedom, quality, value for money spent, individualism, originality, and personal success.
These values are often expressed in the marketing strategies undertaken to reach the consumer and sell products and services, though often the values are implied rather than overtly stated. For instance, the marketer entering the American market with a clothing line will associate the clothing with images reflecting these values -- people who are expressing themselves, doing so freely, and achieving much while wearing this clothing. Commercials would show young people working and playing in these clothes, implying that anyone wearing the same clothes would thus be successful and free as well.
Quality is an important value, and it is directly associated with the value of value for money spent. Americans will spend more for higher quality, and they will also spend more for a perception of higher quality. This shows that there is a conflict between some core American values and American behavior in that some market segments will purchase imported clothing, for instance, for the designer label as much as for any other reason. The conflict…