Harley Davidson Media Plan Term Paper

Pages: 18 (5680 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Transportation

Harley-Davidson made motorcycle has the leading position in the market and sustains its reputation as the motorcycle of choice for motorcycle riders. That reputation has been linked largely with male riders, and indeed males are the largest group interested in purchasing motorcycles by far. The company now seeks to expand its customer base by attracted more females to motorcycle riding and wants to do this by finding ways to appeal to potential female riders. The reputation of the motorcycle to date has been tied to macho attitudes coupled with ideas about personal freedom and the traditional lure of the open road. Many men are drawn to these attitudes and images and see motorcycle riding as a way of fulfilling the need. The question now raised is what would attract women to this activity and what sort of media campaign can be mounted to attract more women to motorcycles.


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Harley-Davidson is only motorcycle manufacturer in the United States and has been designing and producing heavyweight machines for almost a century. The company has benefited greatly from the loyalty of its customers. The first motorcycle was built by the company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin early in the 1900s by the Davidson brothers, William, Walter, and Arthur, joined by William S. Harley. These four designed and developed the cycle with its three horsepower engine in the Davidson family shed. They continued to refine the machine until 1903, when they established the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and made three of the motorcycles for sale. Demand and production increased at a healthy rate for several years, and the company started to advertise by1907. The engine was also improved as a new model featuring a V-twin engine first made the low, deep rumble now identified as the signature Harley-Davidson sound. Using this engine, the rider could reach speeds of 60 miles per hour, formerly thought to be impossible. This sort of achievement helped set the company's motorcycles apart from others as the company grew.

Term Paper on Harley Davidson Media Plan Assignment

Competition did increase over the next few years, and growth for the company continued through the First World War, which was a particular boon for Harley-Davidson as the motorcycle was commissioned for use by the military, notably by the forces on the U.S.-Mexico border, then suffering incursions by the forces of Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. Some 20,000 of the company's machines were employed by the U.S. infantry during the war. The war helped prove the value of the motorcycleand enabled Harley-Davidson to incorporate improvements into its new machines. During the 1920s, the company gained the lead in innovative engineering, adding such features as the Teardrop gas tank and the front brake. In 1921, a Harley-Davidson machine was the first to win a race in which motorists reached average speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. Harley-Davidson managed to survive the Great Depression beacsue of a strong dealer network, continued use by the military and police, and strong exports to Canada and Europe.

After Henry Ford introduced the assembly line, Harley-Davidson adopted the same approach to producing motorcycles. Motorcycles had traditionally been used by workers and businesspeople, though now the more affordable automobile would become the vehicle of choice as the motorcycle in time became more a recreational vehicle. During the Second World War, demand increased again as the motorcycle was again used for the military and demonstrated great versatility. The company turned almost all of its putput to the war effort, and after the war, a healthy postwar economy meant consumers with money to spend on recreation, a need met by Harley-Davidson with additional manufacturing capacity in 1947.

During the fifties and sixties, Harley-Davidson became the major maker of the motorcycles in the United States, and was in fact the sole American motorcycle manufacturer. The company continued to make innovative design changes by introducing its Sportster model in 1957, starting the era of the all-powerful, throaty "superbikes." An entire subculture developed around these motorcycles, with leather jackets and riding as a statement of a desire for a life of freedom on the open road. The film the Wild One, starring Marlon Brando, showed biker gangs riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles as packs of lawless renegades, a stereotype the company still actively strives to dispel. Of course, that image was not made out of whole cloth and started with an actual trashing of a town in Northern California by a biker gang. The image would become part of film culture again in the late 1960s with movies about the Hell's Angels and with the great success of Easy Rider.

The company went public when in 1965 the two families ceded control and put the company's shares on the market. In 1969, the company was purchased by the American Machine and Foundry Co. (AMF), a leisure equipment manufacturer headed by Harley-Davidson fan Rodney C. Gott. This arrangement helped the company at a time when new competition developed from Japanese companies. Motorcycles continued to gain market share into the seventies and eighties as the company opened new plants and developed new marketing techniques. Innovations added an extra $1,000 in costs to each bike, and the profit line suffered because of this change. Management then applied pressure for greater sales volume, and quality began to suffer as production standards that customers were lowered, exacerbated by chronic shortages of parts. The problems added more costs, and market share started to decline. The market share dropped from 80% to 20%, though some loyal riders would settle for nothing but a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, while many newcomers were choosing Japanese affordability and dependability. The recession in 1981 added to the problems facing the company, leading to a turnaround effort as Harley-Davidson executives put together a plan for a leveraged management buyout. Improvements were made in the manufacturing process and in the management of inventory. Changes were also made in the motorcycle itself in the 1980s as there was a lessening of demand. In that same period, the company started placing more emphasis on marketing, establishing the Harley Owners Group (HOG), a club with its own newsletter for fans of the motorcycle. Promotions were also developed to attract large numbers of new buyers from an upscale niche, including the use of television commercials and invitations for people to take a tets ride.

More recently, the company has used cyberspace for promotion of the product, with a website that communicates more directly with owners and with potential owners. The classic appeal of the Harley-Davidson is the central issue on this website, though the company is also seeking to appeal to new customers with different approaches to the consumer and to matching the consumer to the motorcycle.

Current Situation

The intention now is to increase the participation of women in the female section of HOGs and to increase sales of the Sportster models to women. A media plan is to be written to address the needs of this program and to reach that particular group. Recent data on sales to men and women are cited as follows:

Harley Data for 50 Top Markets

Populations (000)

DMA MARKET NAME Age18+ Age18-24 Age25-34 Age35-44 W18+ W18-24 W25-34 W35-44 W25-44 San Diego, CA 2205.0 317.9 442.6 465.5 1108.3 147.3 219.0 224.6 443.6 Pittsburgh, PA 2262.8 269.1 325.5 418.7 1195.9 133.4 163.1 217.1 380.2 Phoenix, AZ 3133.8 406.2 602.5 625.9 1604.7 203.6 299.5 305.4 604.9 Wilkes Barre et al., PA 1171.1 141.0 166.2 218.5 603.4-69.8-80.0 108.3 188.3 Orlando et al., FL 2450.4 276.5 386.9 479.9 1283.0 136.2 197.7 242.7 440.4 Portland-Auburn, ME 747.5-82.1 108.1 153.7 398.7-41.0-58.2-82.3 140.5 Tampa et al., FL 3075.6 295.4 435.3 547.6 1621.2 146.6 221.8 278.6 500.4 Birmingham et al., AL 1338.6 175.7 234.8 256.2 714.5-88.7 120.8 132.83-253.6 Sacramento et al., CA 2653.9 363.0 462.7 553.2 1401.4 191.7 252.8 280.6 533.4 Boston et al., MA-NH 4752.4 557.4 818.0 1032.9 2512.5 281.0 436.5 527.1 963.6 4448.9

As can be seen from this, sales to women are lower in all categories compared to sales for men, though such sales are strong in certain markets. At most,. The appeal is half that for men, which is not a bad customer base size given that the motorcycle has long been a male item and has emphasized the ore macho aspects of the motorcycle for decades. How active this part of the base is in groups like HOG is difficult to say from this data, but part of that problem might be the name FHOGs for Female HOGs, which might indeed by a problem to be addressed with a new names and a new emphasis on the appeal of the motorcycle for women. The media plan will address the advertising and promotion of the motorcycle and may also lead to some changes in the way woman are included in the marketing mix in the future.

Target Audience

The target audience is women in the same basic groups as men, leaning from age 18 to 44 in the groupings noted above. These demographic divisions reflect distinct differences among the different divisions, assuming somewhat different reasons for buying the motorcycle for both… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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