Long Island University
November 17, 2012
Case Analysis 2: Harley-Davidson
This case focuses on the iconic motorcycle brand of Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle manufacturing company founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since Harley-Davidson was established in 1903, the manufacturer has experienced its ups and down. It especially encounters struggles like any other automobile industry during economic downturns. On the verge of bankruptcy around 1980, Harley-Davidson made a surprising comeback. This comeback was mainly a result of Harley-Davidson’s incorporation of customer services into its products, product differentiation through quality and design as well as focusing production on a consistently high level of quality. Today, the company’s annual worldwide sales total more than $4 billion worldwide and have an annual output of 200,000 motorcycles along 35 different models in seven product lines. With these results it is safe to say that Harley-Davidson dominates the U.S. motorcycle market and is also strong in Europe and Japan.
Harley-Davidson does a very good job at differentiating its product. In fact, product differentiation is the main component of Harley-Davidson’s marketing strategy. They want to offer a motorcycle like no other motorcycle on the market at the highest quality. Harley-Davidson not only stresses its level of quality but its consistency of quality as well. Quality refers to the overall characteristic of a product that allows it to perform as expected in satisfying customer needs. Therefore quality can be used to differentiate products because not all products satisfy the needs of the consumer. Harley-Davidson offers many different lines of motorcycles including limited edition models as well as customization options. If the customer customizes the motorcycle then they should be getting exactly what they want at a high quality. Harley-Davidson emphasizes the consistency of quality as much as the level of quality because no matter how high the level of quality is, if it is not consistent then they will lose customers. For example, if you go to a restaurant that serves food the way you like it to be prepared only half of the time, it is likely that you will no longer go there. Then word spreads to others and they are less likely to go to that restaurant too. The same goes for Harley-Davidson. They want to ensure that every motorcycle has a high quality to keep the customers satisfied and bring forth even more customers. They also offer financing and insurance which helps differentiate them from competitors even more.
Harley-Davidson believes that customer service is an important part of the product. They help differentiate their product by offering customers training, warrantees, guarantees, repairs and accessories. They want the customers to be comfortable with the employees and have a positive buying experience. Some dealers even take it a step further by offering a Rider’s Edge course. Since this course was offered at some dealerships, more than 150,000 people have graduated and earned a motorcycles license. This customer service section aims at the population of people who would like to buy a Harley-Davidson but do not know how to ride. They join these step-by-step courses with the employees and are on track to one day having their own Harley. They also offer a line of bikes for women and teach women how to ride bikes, pick them up, and assist them with any information they need in the buying process. They even have founded the Harley Owens Group in order to instill a sense of community amongst riders. There are over 1 million members. They have access to certain benefits, group rides, members only website, exclusive magazines, and a special customer service hotline. They even offer free tours at four of its factories, not to mention the museum.
The Harley-Davidson museum is located in its...