Harley-Davidson, Inc. (HD) is a number one producer of heavyweight motorcycles in the United States. To decrease the seasonality variation of the motorcycle market, HD also expanded its product lines to include RVs, machined components, engines, and HD branded products. Over past years the company has been able to withstand significant business fluctuations including leveraged buyout, increasing international (primarily Japanese) competition as well as government regulations. Even now, despite continuously improving financial position and growing customer base, HD faces some serious issues. The main question remains: how well does the current strategy work and what are the major alternatives for HD.
Current competitive position of the company is primarily a result of continuous improvement efforts of HD's management team. Although trade tariffs played significant role in reducing competition and giving HD the opportunity to become stronger, the results would not be the same without reorganization of operations, strong marketing efforts, management dedication, and employee involvement. In order for those changes to work, Harley developed overall goals that included improvement of quality, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and shareholder return. The company's long term focus is concerned quality, productivity, participation, and flexibility.
In addition to all the strengths listed above, the company's number one strength is certainly the loyalty of its customer base. However, hard-core biker image is also a weakness of the company as the image turns-off a lot of people. Other weaknesses include very narrow customer base and product differentiation. Also, Harley-Davidson has a very limited presence in other countries where Harley products are viewed mostly as luxury item, symbol of Americana.
Continuously growing competition, emerging low-cost production techniques, changing... [continues]
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