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Thread: Shift in Harley Bike Demographics

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Shift in Harley Bike Demographics

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    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Not surprising. The "other" Harley Davidsons, aka Victory, Indian, and the like, are pretty darn good motorcycles with updated engineering and features on which HD is behind the curve--ABS and so on. Using "lifestyle marketing" to sell manufactured hardware runs the risk of someone else's hardware fitting the lifestyle as well or better than the originator.

    In that same vein, one should note that the Japanese and non-German "BMWs" are getting pretty darn good, too...

    Best,

    DG
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    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    is it really a shift or have they saturated their market?
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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    Not surprising. The "other" Harley Davidsons, aka Victory, Indian, and the like, are pretty darn good motorcycles with updated engineering and features on which HD is behind the curve--ABS and so on. Using "lifestyle marketing" to sell manufactured hardware runs the risk of someone else's hardware fitting the lifestyle as well or better than the originator.

    In that same vein, one should note that the Japanese and non-German "BMWs" are getting pretty darn good, too...

    Best,

    DG
    I am curious about the Indian product. It does seem to be focused on the Chief old styling and the Scout is priced nicely. If the Scout engine was configured in frame similar to a Brough or Vincent, I would be all over that.......

    http://www.vintagemotorcyclesonline....1936-11-50.JPG

    http://www.vintagemotorshirts.com/vi...hadow-ad-sale/

    But, relative to the original,

    indian-ad.jpg

    the current offering isn't terrible, but too cruiser in my opinion.

    Why my interest? My father rode a 1936 Scout during the WW-II rationing period and often talked of how much he liked the machine. It was long gone before my birth.
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    I read it as many are still willing to pay $21,000-28,000 for the touring rigs, but not so many for CVO models ranging from $32,000 to $40,000. Seven to eight years ago Harley would have been projecting 450,000 units a year by now, instead of 281,000. Of course, sport bike demand has dropped even further, that however might be beginning to change. So much has changed in the last 8 years, including a much larger percent of Harley riders now on social security. Not that there's anything wrong with that (says the BMW owner of SS), but not sure how many SS recipients are spending $35-40,000 on highest end models...not due to just money, but also deciding at age 65 and older, that perhaps downsizing makes sense both physically and too, "hey, the one I got now should last till I quit riding" realization.

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motodan View Post
    So much has changed in the last 8 years, including a much larger percent of Harley riders now on social security. Not that there's anything wrong with that (says the BMW owner of SS), but not sure how many SS recipients are spending $35-40,000 on highest end models...not due to just money, but also deciding at age 65 and older, that perhaps downsizing makes sense both physically and too, "hey, the one I got now should last till I quit riding" realization.
    The market demographic you identified is currently the most affluent segment of our society. IMHO, Harley and BMW are going after the same folks and I think the future will be very interesting relative to marketing for both companies.

    At 10-yrs out from 65, I see very few of my similar age coworkers spending money on anything. They're placing every penny they can in retirement and health savings accounts. Perhaps, after they're SS eligible, they'll free-up some money and assume they won't out live their savings......
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
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    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    Not surprising. The "other" Harley Davidsons, aka Victory, Indian, and the like, are pretty darn good motorcycles with updated engineering and features on which HD is behind the curve--ABS and so on. Using "lifestyle marketing" to sell manufactured hardware runs the risk of someone else's hardware fitting the lifestyle as well or better than the originator.

    In that same vein, one should note that the Japanese and non-German "BMWs" are getting pretty darn good, too...

    Best,

    DG
    The "other" Harley Davidsons you referred to are all part of a larger "other" H-D, Polaris Industries. The two companies make interesting case studies in the power sports industry for comparison. Both companies have histories that trace back to the early parts of their parent industries: H-D in motorcycles, Polaris in snowmobiles. How the two, as publicly held companies, have taken divergent paths to deal with updates in engineering and features is fascinating to me.

    H-D is sitting on an incredible cache of engineering ideas, patents and diverse potential product lines. They have explored shaft drives, V-4 water cooled engines, early abs systems and more. The general approach is to try and bring theses ideas and products out under the H-D brand name. In that respect they have been a failure in many instances. The V-Rod engine was developed with Porsche engineering assistance to be the next gen engine for the brand. It received resistance from US dealers and customers when it was released and has never reached its intended potential here. In other parts of the world the story is very different. H-D has been substantially growing its sales in the EU with the help of the V-Rod models. At one point IIRC, while offering their full line of engines in the EU, they were selling 9 V-Rod engine machines for every old style engine machine.

    Polaris has taken a different approach. The company roots are to found in snowmobiles. Over the years they have expanded into ATVs, electric vehicles and more. Unlike H-D's largely single brand approach, Polaris has taken a multi brand approach to bringing products to market, while in the background sharing internal and external engineering prowess and developments across those brands. It has not always been successful in this. An expansion into the watercraft industry failed. They developed a sleek little speedboat powered by an engine derived from their snowmobiles. I had the chance to use one. It was a fun craft with good nautical design a peppy engine that never found a market.

    Late to the motorcycle sector it could take on H-D for market share in that sector taking full advantage of new designs, engineering etc while not having to deal with the legacy history and expectation baggage H-D brings with it to a new product release. With acquisition of Indian and keeping it an independent brand under the corporate umbrella is consistent with their history. The challenge I see is to develop and grow the products of these brands as they begin to acquire a brand history and niche of their own with customers. Time will tell if they will be more successful at this than H-D. A Brough or Vincent inspired bike would be fun but I suspect would come out under a revived brand name of the respective bike.

    The latest 'new product' the companies share a divergent developmental history with is three wheelers. Polaris is bringing out the Slingshot. In many ways this strikes me as a road going version of their speedboat effort. Love or hate the design idea it should be a ball to ride/drive. H-D over the years has acquired several start-up companies which developed similar designs. These bolstered internal efforts to develop the idea. As clever as any of these may be, in roughly 40 years H-D has not been able to overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of bringing such a product to market under their name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    The market demographic you identified is currently the most affluent segment of our society. IMHO, Harley and BMW are going after the same folks and I think the future will be very interesting relative to marketing for both companies.

    At 10-yrs out from 65, I see very few of my similar age coworkers spending money on anything. They're placing every penny they can in retirement and health savings accounts. Perhaps, after they're SS eligible, they'll free-up some money and assume they won't out live their savings......
    Maybe. I do not plan to out live my retirement funds, but I do think my spouse could. Therefore, somewhat more conservative in spending than that of 10 years ago.

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    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mika View Post
    H-D is sitting on an incredible cache of engineering ideas ...
    Most people think of "competing" as using them.

    The proof's in the pudding, and there's little proof.

    But Porsche will be there to help them.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mika View Post
    The "other" Harley Davidsons you referred to are all part of a larger "other" H-D, Polaris Industries. The two companies make interesting case studies in the power sports industry for comparison. Both companies have histories that trace back to the early parts of their parent industries: H-D in motorcycles, Polaris in snowmobiles. How the two, as publicly held companies, have taken divergent paths to deal with updates in engineering and features is fascinating to me.

    H-D is sitting on an incredible cache of engineering ideas, patents and diverse potential product lines. They have explored shaft drives, V-4 water cooled engines, early abs systems and more. The general approach is to try and bring theses ideas and products out under the H-D brand name. In that respect they have been a failure in many instances. The V-Rod engine was developed with Porsche engineering assistance to be the next gen engine for the brand. It received resistance from US dealers and customers when it was released and has never reached its intended potential here. In other parts of the world the story is very different. H-D has been substantially growing its sales in the EU with the help of the V-Rod models. At one point IIRC, while offering their full line of engines in the EU, they were selling 9 V-Rod engine machines for every old style engine machine.

    Polaris has taken a different approach. The company roots are to found in snowmobiles. Over the years they have expanded into ATVs, electric vehicles and more. Unlike H-D's largely single brand approach, Polaris has taken a multi brand approach to bringing products to market, while in the background sharing internal and external engineering prowess and developments across those brands. It has not always been successful in this. An expansion into the watercraft industry failed. They developed a sleek little speedboat powered by an engine derived from their snowmobiles. I had the chance to use one. It was a fun craft with good nautical design a peppy engine that never found a market.

    Late to the motorcycle sector it could take on H-D for market share in that sector taking full advantage of new designs, engineering etc while not having to deal with the legacy history and expectation baggage H-D brings with it to a new product release. With acquisition of Indian and keeping it an independent brand under the corporate umbrella is consistent with their history. The challenge I see is to develop and grow the products of these brands as they begin to acquire a brand history and niche of their own with customers. Time will tell if they will be more successful at this than H-D. A Brough or Vincent inspired bike would be fun but I suspect would come out under a revived brand name of the respective bike.

    The latest 'new product' the companies share a divergent developmental history with is three wheelers. Polaris is bringing out the Slingshot. In many ways this strikes me as a road going version of their speedboat effort. Love or hate the design idea it should be a ball to ride/drive. H-D over the years has acquired several start-up companies which developed similar designs. These bolstered internal efforts to develop the idea. As clever as any of these may be, in roughly 40 years H-D has not been able to overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of bringing such a product to market under their name.
    In many ways Polaris reminds one of the recreational product lines from Bombardier. Snowmobiles, PWC's, little jet boats, etc. However, the Victory and Indian lines do seem to be holding on and offering a Harley alternative.

    The jet boats, be they either SeaDoo or Polaris products, are wonderful means of consuming fuel. A primary goal in achieving high speed in a planing craft is getting the hull out of the water (i.e., on plane). When you have a waterjet sucking your stern into the water, that's counter productive. Glenn Curtiss answered the problem with the stepped hull form which enabled the early flying boats to achieve success and begat the Pan Am Cippers and PBY's
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

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