In a market where new motorcycle registrations have fallen 41 percent since 2007 overall and 36 percent for Harley-Davidson and where the company’s production has sunk to 2001 levels, the company is looking for sources of growth and continues to increase its female-targeted marketing efforts to attract more would-be riders.
Since 2008 model Marisa Miller is a Harley spokesperson (or salesperson) demonstrating her motorcycle skills, burnouts included, in a series of videos to convince women that if she can do it, all women can. This year Harley-Davidson dealers held about 500 “women-only parties” where Harley employees try to demystify many women fears regarding bikes weight, safety, etc. 27,000 women participated to these events.
In July of this year, Harley also launched the $7,990 Harley SuperLow, designed to appeal to both women and first-time riders. It’s 150 pounds lighter than a typical Harley, with a generous rear-suspension travel, a deeply cushioned seat, easy-reach handlebar and the lowest seat (25.5″) in Harley’s 32-bike lineup. Results of all these marketing efforts? Women riders now represent about 12 percent of Harley sales compared with 2 percent in 1995. The company has now a 53 percentage-point market-share lead among female riders.
Overall, Harley-Davidson has 47 percent of the U.S. market share for on-road motorcycles through July (Kawasaki Motors is second, with 14 percent), a one percentage point increase from last year. About 1/5th of the bikes Harley sells today are Sportsters, the smallest and less expensive but also less profitable of the lineup. (picture copyright Harley-Davidson)