Harley Davidson Marketing Analysis


Harley Davidson’s first electric motorcycle, Project Livewire, is still in the research and development stage. However, Harley has already begun marketing it on the web.

The target market for Project Livewire will focus mostly on the younger generation. For instance, in an article from the website Behind the Detail, Will MacNeil writes, “Harley Davidson is on a mission to reach a new demographic, a young and earth conscious demographic with the potential release of a brand new electric motorcycle.” MacNeil is correct; the demographic for Project Livewire is consumers in the age range of 16 to 30, with bachelor’s degrees, and upper middleclass incomes. In an article from Adweek, Lisa Granatstein interviewed Mark-Hans Richer, Harley Davidson global CMO, who said, “Innovation at Harley-Davison is also integral to attracting youth. Richer pointed to its Project Livewire.” The distinct feature of this target market is the psychographics. The consumers must be passionate about, or at least aware of, environmental sustainability, and their past buying habits should reflect that.

The positioning strategy for Project Livewire is going to use comparative advertising alongside green marketing. Harley Davidson can do this in two ways; both will be equally beneficial. The first way Harley Davidson can use comparative advertising is to position Project Livewire by comparing it to their other bikes. Doing this will show that the new bike still carries that rugged Harley Davidson tradedress, but it will also show how much more efficient and environmentally friendly it is than the company’s other motorcycles. The second way Harley Davidson can position Project Livewire is to use comparative advertising to show how well it matches up, in terms of motorcycle specs and fuel efficiency (because it uses none!), against competitors’ motorcycles.

Harley Davidson’s digital presence has been miniscule in the past, including recent years. In an article from the site Adage, Lindsay Stein writes, “Harley reported a 3.4% drop in retail motorcycle sales in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2015, as well as a 1.7% dip for the full year of 2015…The company is increasing its customer-facing marketing investment by 65%, compared with 2015, largely focusing on growing the sport of motorcycling in the U.S. and boosting product and brand awareness and relevance.” Harley Davidson has been slacking with their digital presence because they had no need to focus on it in the past. Harley Davidson is the most recognizable motorcycle brand in the world. However, times have changed to a new, digital way of advertising, and Harley Davidson has been suffering because of its lethargy in adopting digital strategies.

Project Livewire has a couple more years until it will be released, so there is not a massive digital presence for the new motorcycle, but Harley Davidson has been using the web to ensure the product is still being noticed. Harley Davidson is using their website to show off Project Livewire with videos, testimonials from those who have seen and used the prototypes, and details about the motorcycle. I also found a video from the investor portion of Harley Davidson’s website where the CEO of Harley Davidson, Matthew Levatich, describes how Harley Davidson is taking the first step in the motorcycle industry with its innovative new bike, Project Livewire. I even had some banner ads pop up on my browser for Project Livewire after I had searched for it, showing that Harley Davidson is using content-targeted advertising.

From my research I have found that Harley Davidson is on most, if not all, major social media platforms, such as Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.

Harley Davidson’s social media strategy, from what I have seen thus far, is to start straying away from the baby boomer generation and appeal more to millennials. The posts I have seen for both Harley Davidson and its new bike, Project Livewire, have shown younger, more sophisticated-looking riders. The posts also show a lot more women and minorities riding their bikes, which older ads did not. Harley Davidson seems to be inching away from the extremely rugged tradedress that they used before, and moving toward a brand that is welcoming to all.

As a millennial, I often notice what companies are doing wrong when they try to advertise to consumers who are my age. If I had to give three digital recommendations for Harley Davidson, they would be as follows: First, start using social media and the internet as a whole to reach the target market. Use media such as blogs, podcasts and emails to reach the targeted consumers. Second, position your brand more toward environmental sustainability. Start associating your brand with environmental cleanups, charities, and sponsorships, and broadcast the efforts all over your social media platforms. You are on the correct path with Project Livewire, but the environment is, and will continue to be, one of the most important aspects of a company in appealing to the younger generation of consumers. Third and finally, continue your current social media strategy by appealing to a wider audience, women, and the younger generation as a whole. Be sure to keep a wide variety of riders shown in your posts, and keep posting frequently.








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