Harley Davidson Marketing Success

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Harley-Davidson was established in 1903 with headquarters in Milwaukee. It is a diversified company, the only major US maker of motorcycles still in business and the nation's #1 seller of heavyweight motorcycles offering several models of touring and custom cycles, related products, accessories and transportation vehicles. In the 1960’s, the Japanese flooded the market competing with light weight motorcycles and huge marketing programs to promote sales. The motorcycle industry took off rapidly. In 1969, this market penetration created major quality problems for Harley Davidson related to increased production efforts to remain competitive. The company could not match the excellence of the Japanese cycles who had began producing heavy weight cycles, nearly driving HD out of business. HD founders grandson, who mingled with and understood the Harley riders was successful in keeping the company viable with new designs. In the 80’s, 13 members of HD management purchased the company from AMF and introduced a short term strategy to return to quality with Just in time inventory and an employee involvement, quality circle program. In 1982, HD convinced the International Trade Commission (ITC) that a glut of imported Japanese bikes were a threat to the company. Tariffs imposed on the Japanese imports gave Harley Davidson a chance to reposition itself and regain market share.

A long term marketing strategy was developed to focus on heavy weight bikes. Improvements were discussed with the riders and a Harley Owner Group (HOG) society expanded the social atmosphere of motorcycling and activities revolve around HD products. A Demonstration Rider program brought new Harleys to motorcycle events and licensed riders were encouraged to ride showing would be customers the improve- ment in quality. Manufacturing publications and media were invited to visit plants and to publish articles on the...
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