Harley-Davidson Is Talking To Baby Boomers, Young Adults, Women And Minorities…Via The Internet.

harleydavidsonwebsiteAs always, difficult times provide an opportunity to address excess costs and define new strategies and reevaluate new medias to reach your customers. It’s exactly what Harley-Davidson is doing. Mark-Hans Richer, Harley-Davidson’s CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) stated recently “It’s clear that we enjoy a great bond with boomers, but our strategy is to extend age distribution on both sides of the curve”. So, the factory continues to invest in baby-boomer customers (by improving its touring line and marketing its Tri Glide Trike), but is also courting younger adults with its blacked-out Dark Custom Series, women via social online networking and in broadcasting videos for Hispanic riders or Harlistas. I applaud the fact that to implement this multi-generational, multi-cultural marketing campaign, Harley-Davidson relies heavily on the Internet.

No other medias let you segment your targets as well the web, gives you the opportunity to adapt your message to each group, let you interact almost live and so fast with your customers. For example, the Sporster Iron 883, which sells for less than $8,000 was launched by enlisting  180,000 “friends” on Facebook and MySpace. Harley-Davidson has its own very successful channel on YouTube. Its official sites all over the world are getting more and more interactive with Harley organizing several video events and contests.

The remarkable thing is that when Harley-Davidson creates and publishes online content, this content is exponentially increased for free by surfers responding by creating and publishing their own online content for the benefit of Harley. The same way you as a reader of this blog creates new content via your comments each time I publish a post. I think that Harley-Davidson has been a little bit slow to understand the marketing leverage they could get from the Internet. But I think that without excluding some print magazines they have now the good media strategy. In 1 year the average age of a Harley-Davidson customer stayed nearly flat, increasing only one-tenth of 1 percent, from 47.2 to 47.3. But it’s a progress when compared to the speed at which this average age was getting higher. Let’s see in 2010 what it will be after 1 more year of Internet multi-generational strategy. I am optimistic.


23 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Is Talking To Baby Boomers, Young Adults, Women And Minorities…Via The Internet.”

  1. 1 Ray May 3rd, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Agreed. Harley-Davidson is going to emerge stronger than ever. They have the right strategy despite what some dumb bikers are saying.

  2. 2 Brandon May 3rd, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Harley davidson sells image. No motorcycle company does it better. Even today. Internet gives them options to pursue separately a younger clientele, women, minorities, etc while at the same time keeping in touch with the baby boomers, also big internet users. Smart. It’s a digital interactive world and Harley understood. Evidently, Cyril too..

  3. 3 LeviStrike May 3rd, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Never commented before. but each time I read in this blog a negative comment about Harley, I laugh. None of these so called experts would be able to do anything if sitting in a Harley chair in Milwaukee, Harley-davidson is a great company with great people. They don’t suffer more in this recession than any other automotive business. As a matter of fact less than others.

  4. 4 harry May 3rd, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I hope that H-D is successful in this marketing campaign; it wouldn’t hurt them to get some new customers in there and in turn, get some fresh ideas from some new consumers as well. A lot of people like to throw H-D under the bus, but I am a Harley fan. A new fan, but not a longtime one (I still consider myself new to this deal…). I’d give Harley a chance and see what they do the next couple years; in spite of the economy not being terribly strong right now, I think you’ll see some cool stuff come from them, not in a sense where they put together a bike with unlimited dollars, but w/ the designers and engineers working off of something that they already have in the inventory and doing some out of the box thinking and putting out something cool without pissing off the bean counters in accounting too bad. I hope that H-D does succeed in whatever they do, cause they are the last bit of Americana that we really have left IMHO.

  5. 5 carol stanley May 3rd, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Every man interested or not interested wants a harley…It is the name and it is the symbol. My husband has some very fine old and new bikes but I know he dreams harley….You cannot beat it…The best???? Well that may be of question.

  6. 6 Grayhawk May 3rd, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    The lead in on this post is on the money Harley has to look past its nose, the baby boomer segment that is and look to tap other market segments to sustain anywhere close to 200k plus units in the future which is a positive and not HD bashing. Peaked somewhere around 360k plus.

    Before all the custom, chopper guys, etc. bash as I have a bit of many style bikes; old, new, stock, antique, custom, dirt, and chopped so I tend to look and speak from several viewpoints.

    Look at it this way most custom and/or chopper folks started on a Harley or something else, British or ? Then they/we evolved to something else or added an additional bike or two.

    I personal can always find something I like about every bike and the need for same, guess that is the male morman biker in me.

    I do see the merit in HD branching out to gain market share in new segments of the population as I have stated so over the years but do not like the path of Spanish specific this, Woman specific that, etc. other then clothing or?

    The Black bikers have probably higher discretionary funds or purchasing power as a group at this day in time more so than a Hispanic although they are getting there and will do so, but you do not see HD doing anything special for the Black Biker as a group other than sending HD trucks to Black bike weeks. So I am a bit confused there as to why they, HD would or should do a Hispanic specific push? And no I am not wanting a White only anything either.

    Being a Dagoo Honky with some Cajun blood I am not taking any sides here just do not like segmenting by group period, you are a biker, an enthusiast , a wannabe, or just a weekend warrior or what ever you want to call yourself and drawing lines of specificity may be small minded or short sighted as we are divided enough, just be for bikers, for bikes period. It is smart to advertise on/in and for different markets, etc. But separate webs sites etc. might be just creating more grief.


  7. 7 Nicker May 3rd, 2009 at 9:46 pm


    “… I do see the merit in HD branching out to gain market share …”

    Ya, i hear ya.
    But they seem to be going in some strange “branching out” directions.
    Stunts like spending mega-bux on MV doesn’t seem like a viable strategy…..
    About like OCC doing a Ducatti…… ???
    Makes no sense……. to me anyway.


  8. 8 Grayhawk May 4th, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Could be as simple as HD buying Winnabago or what ever the camper buy was back in the day looking for/investing in a perceived additional revenue source or wanting some technology insight from MV from something other than Buell in respect to sport bike market gains, either way a drop in the bucket on outlay of cash they have dropped on Buell? Maybe a Buell with an MV motor or something, aka – Porche V-ROD? who knows. Hope it was a smart move.


  9. 9 James (Kwi) May 4th, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Well it is great to see Americans sticking up for one of their icons.
    Harley Davidson builds some great bikes that are basically just fun to ride.For me thats what it is all about.Having Fun
    Nicker when you look at Europe the Sports bike is the big seller.MV is one of the bggest names of all time.If HD an keep the Quaity and speed up and help with production costs to build a better priced bike .It will do well.
    Rossi and the bike racers over there are like Your biggest baseball and Grid Iron players are over in the USA.In Italy there are posters of Rossi every where and Yamaha are doing well.
    Maybe one day HD may be back in racing.
    I know HD corporate Tries to undermine and attack the small builder.I think this is the wrong way to go about it ,but do not know the answer.
    After all imitaton is the greatest form of flattery

    James (Kiwi)

  10. 10 Scharf May 4th, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Just remember it was Renegade Magazine that first started appealing to the new breed of bikers long before anyon else even gave it a thought! We have been focusing on the new generation of biker for over five years! We’ve trying to bring the life back into the biker scene, which has grown bloated and stale for many years now, with old fat guys and their pre-cut sleeveless shirts, doo-rags and cookie cutter choppers! Let’s face it without the young punks, there are no young GIRLS!!! Even you doo-rag clowns gotta like that!

  11. 11 Rodent May 4th, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Harley needs to dump the butt ughly V-Rod and take its potentially great powerplant from it and put it in a real bike at a resonable price.

  12. 12 Grayhawk May 4th, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Burp, excuse me Sharp I mean Scharf, did not your mother not ever tell you old chickens make good soup. Young girls who?

    Silly me I thought the little blue pill was what was bringing the life back into the Biker scene.

    I do like my precut sleeveless shirts but my once small tattoes on my once big arms are now big tattoes on my small arms. Enjoy the punk scene while you can just enjoy the bike scene and if you live long enough you can look back and smile.


  13. 13 Brian May 4th, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Harley’s presence in the social networks is impressive. You can tell they do spend a lot of money in that realm but they also do an excellent job. Their Facebook and Twitter feeds throughout Daytona were awesome. It helped make me feel like I was right there even though I was stuck thousands of miles away. Kudos to H-D Marketing! Now if I could just figure out what company they outsource their Facebook apps to…

  14. 14 Scout May 4th, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Scharf. I’m a fan. I “get” your mag. I know many don’t. That’s part of the charm for me. I relate to it well. Keep up the good work!

  15. 15 Dustin H. May 4th, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I am 36. I read only the Horse & Cycle Source, what Cyril calls niche magazines, and this blog. Need to read nothing else. All other big magazines do the same mag since years, never evolved, In all sectors the recession has accelerated the fall of those who didn’t adapt. It’s kind of ironic that those in the medias who criticize Harley for not reaching out to young people are publishing magazines for the ones who were already 20 years old and riding in the 70’s. Dumb publishers.

  16. 16 Jeremy May 4th, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Brian. Cyril is also on Twitter. Evidently it’s because it helps him reach young people for his shop and blog.

  17. 17 fuji May 4th, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Rumor from a Harley owner and they don’t lie.
    Billy May expected to make Harley commercial. ” of Oxi Clean fame”
    Buy a Harley for $1995.00 with tee shirt for $19.95 and recieve one shirt free.
    How could they do this without losing money? Arent those shirts worth double that?

  18. 18 James (Kwi) May 4th, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Well Sharf (reminds me of that ol cop programe from the 70’s but he would not have been born then)
    Down here in The deepest South, I have never heard of Renegade magazine,that is not to say it is not a great read. But I normaly only buy MotorCycle magazines,.Not lifestyle magazines that include HotRods ,tattoos etc.For me personaly the “MotorCyle IS the lifestyle.The other shit comes along with it if your doing it right.That includes the Girls or Women ,as there is nothing like bit of maturity from a good Women to keep one focused.

    Tin tops ,steel coffins,4 door slammers.art skate boards, are all secondary.

    Any day on a MotorSickle is a good day!

    James (Kiwi) from 45 South.

  19. 19 Kenny Price May 4th, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    i sold stock in hd several years ago and rebought it when it was 12 bucks. i have almost doubled my money already and when this recession is over all us bikers win.

    one more thing to add, too bad hd runs their dealer network like hitler ran germany. lets hope they give the dealers a little slack since so many dealerships have had to close. ruthless bastards. i am also glad to hear the ceo and cfo are gone too. we will see a new company emerge.

  20. 20 fuji May 4th, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Right on,
    Kenny Price : One more thing to add, too bad HD runs their dealer network like Hitler ran Germany.

    My sentiments . It’s a hard pill to swallow at times. They have flexed their muscle many times with strong arm dollars and political pressure over the years and many don’t see them for who they are.

    I know the bastards are grinning every time an after market company goes under , their percentages go up.
    That is why I ride old iron. Peace and a bright future for your Co

  21. 21 Nicker May 5th, 2009 at 12:07 am

    “… look at Europe the Sports bike is the big seller …”

    Actually i am European and understand the “motorcycle culture” there.
    But America simply isn’t like Europe.
    If it were, then the V-rod and the Buell would have had more of an impact.
    Americans like HD because it’s an icon, not because they’re buying technology.


    “…That is why I ride old iron…”

    Yes sir!
    Old iron is the only true connection with the iconic HD past.
    The dirty little secret (you all know it) is that it takes more than the “ability” to write a good check to get an old scooter to do your bidding.
    Turns out, you actually have to know and do something beyond pushing a button…. 🙂
    Use to be, the above made owning and riding old iron an “exclusive club.”
    Any more, the escalating price has increased the barrier.

    To me, the ability to manage that old technology was and is what being a “Biker” is all about.
    The fact that not too many others are able to gracefully pull it off is simply a bonus….. 🙂

    The point is that HD makes it on “The Harley Experience” (a different meaning for different people).
    But if that experience was about “technology” the Buell and the V-Rod would have been way more popular.

    And so i don’t see MV making any difference whatsoever. Most certainly not as a revenue source.

    At least that’s the way i see it.

  22. 22 IntelWeenie May 5th, 2009 at 11:39 am


    A lot of “young” bikers are riding because us “old fat guys and our pre-cut sleeveless shirts, doo-rags and cookie cutter choppers” introduced them and taught them. We were around long before the pre-cut sleeveless shirts. Who do you think introduced that fad? It’s all about “looking cool” when you’re young. When (and if) you get old, it’s all about comfort.

    Where you are, we once were. And where we are, you WILL be.

    You would do well to remember that.

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