As 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.