Essay On Harley Davidson Case Analysis
Harley Davidson is an extremely well established company with a number of features that have made it successful throughout the years. When the company was founded, in 1903, the motorcycle market was very different. It seems strange to think that the same company that was established to bring motorbikes into fashion would grow to become the massive company it is today.
However, along with the massive growth of the Harley Davidson Company since its inception, there have been bumps in the road. The company is heavily associated with a number of less than savory elements, including the Hell’s Angels, a motorcycle gang that has been associated with violence and other gang-related activities in the past. The company also had to fight against imports from other countries, which offered the consumer a completely different motorcycle experience from the large Harley Davidson.
The most important issues facing the company currently are mostly issues of image, but there are other issues associated with the company as well. The association with gang violence and motorcycle gangs as a whole has tarnished Harley’s reputation. However, this is exacerbated by the fact that the company also has to deal with a number of cheaper imports from places like Japan; these bikes are completely different from the Harley image, and appeal to some consumers more than Harleys do. Finally, the customer base for Harley—like the customer base for some luxury car companies—is aging. The company has to find a way to attract a younger customer base, or they face a serious downturn in profitability in the coming years.
One of the things that the company found, when looking at the market data for young adults, is that to appeal to young adults, they had to provide these customers with the proper look and feel of a motorcycle. For Harley Davidson, the act of producing excellent bikes is one that is ingrained into the company reality; there is no problem for them insofar as creating excellent bikes is concerned. However, Harley has, in the past, focused on a lot of chrome and other flashy qualities on their bikes, and the researchers for Harley Davidson found that young adults tend to like black over chrome in significant numbers.
The most important thing, however, is to create a marketing image that appeals to a younger crowd. The researchers investigating young people’s reactions to Harley reported, “ Young Adults had a decidedly different attitude toward the brand than the Core customers. A survey conducted among Young Adults (which included both owners and non-owners) asked for agreement with the statement, “You can relate to Harley- Davidson.” Agreement was 16% for respondents under age 35 Even though this younger generation was comfortable with some of the social norms surrounding Harley-Davidson’s brand image there was no guarantee they wanted to follow the Boomers’ motorcycle passions.” In short, Harley must design a strategy to appeal to young adults that strays significantly from the image that is so often presented of an aging Baby Boomer on a Harley. If Harley Davidson can move away from the desires and appeal to an older generation, then it is possible that they can connect with younger customers and create a new generation of core customers. If they cannot, they face a large downturn in customer base once Baby Boomers become too old to ride.
For Harley Davidson’s future, the target market will be young adults. The desire for Harley Davidson is for the brand to create an image that appeals to adults between the ages 20 and 35, and presents an image of freedom, soul-searching, and community, as these are the thematic ideas that were most appealing to young adults during the research process.
The first part of the process will be to seamlessly blend the Buell branding with the Harley Davidson branding. Associating the two brands will allow for some crossover between the Harley and Buell brands once certain Buell customers are able to obtain enough disposable income to purchase one of the more expensive Harley bikes. The Buell brand should be maintained separately, however, because of its success in European markets. This will ensure that Harley has a hand in both the leisure bike market as well as the sport bike market.
The next part of the process will be to do updates on the current Harley Davidson branding. Disassociating the brand with violence and gang activity should be the ultimate goal of the marketing strategy; mainstreaming the brand is incredibly important, although the brand can keep an alternative feel, because tattoos and piercings are becoming more and more common. Finally, a more active presence on social media and other internet-based technologies will help expose the brand to younger people more effectively. A well-designed viral marketing campaign is an incredibly powerful strategy insofar as attracting a younger audience to a brand is concerned. Current marketing research suggests that a strong social media presence is appealing to young people as a whole.