Harley Davidson Case Analysis

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Despite their conception in 1903, Harley-Davidson and the motorcycle industry as a whole didn’t really take off until after the Second World War. Many people rode motorcycles during the war, with Harley-Davidson themselves supplying almost 90,000 motorcycles for the U.S. military during this time. Many veterans chose to purchase motorcycles upon returning home, as they enjoyed riding during the war and wanted to continue riding in their civilian life. This generation known as the “baby-boomers” quickly became the main target audience for many of Harley-Davidson’s marketing efforts. With sales increasing and the industry growing, many “motorcycle clubs” and “rallies” were introduced. Unfortunately, due to the lewd behavior displayed by most people associated with these clubs and rallies, bikers typically had an image of being disorderly and raucous. Harley-Davidson’s image itself took a big shot due to the Hells Angels. This was a motorcycle gang wishing to become notorious for “drug trafficking and other organized crime activities,” who used only Harley-Davidson motorcycles. All of this combined to lead to a decline in demand and sales throughout the entire industry during the 1960’s. The industry was really helped out with the release of the Hollywood film Easy Rider in 1969. This film helped change the public’s perception of bikers and sparked an increase in motorcycle demand which has lasted to this day. The motorcycle industry offers products which can be viewed as luxuries or wants as opposed to necessities. When concerning Harley-Davidson, most motorcycle owners have purchased their bikes as a second vehicle, using them more during weekends and off-time instead of during the work week. This implies that the motorcycles serve for recreational purposes and thus are an item which can be expendable at times. This has hurt the industry recently with the slight recession the United States economy is facing. Another interesting thing to note about the motorcycle industry is the different appeal bikes carry in different global regions. In the United States for instance, Harley-Davidson has had much success because of the market trends and tastes people enjoy. Harley-Davidson has benefited from a U.S. market which enjoys casual and recreational riding. This isn’t necessarily the case overseas, as in Europe the trendy pick is a sleeker street bike, with a focus on speed and handling as opposed to power and comfort. Despite these somewhat unfavorable market characteristics, Harley-Davidson has found success in the motorcycle industry. Some key factors in order to achieve this include having a strong and adaptable brand image, having a strong marketing effort (both domestically and globally), and having a strong network of dealers. Harley-Davidson has found ways to turn these factors into strengths while pursuing a strategy using focused differentiation to sell its products. This implies that the company sells a high-quality product at a premium price. The company is looking to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering motorcycles that have more power, custom accessories, and carry the Harley-Davidson brand name and logo. Harley-Davidson has tried to implement this strategy with various techniques, with the main one being creating a strong sense of community between Harley-Davidson owners. Harley-Davidson has created a network among its clients known as the Harley Owners Groups (HOG) which allows for people in certain geographic regions who own Harley-Davidson motorcycles to socialize or ride with other owners. This has helped create strong brand recognition, easily making Harley-Davidson the biggest and most recognizable names in the industry. Another thing which Harley-Davidson has done to gain more control of the market share is to incorporate apparel and accessories into its product line, which has helped in many areas where consumers don’t have the resources to purchase a motorcycle,...
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