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Harley Davidson Analysis
We think it would be interesting to quote first Harley-Davidson's mission, in order to get a first approach of what is the purpose of the company from their point of view. The mission talks first about dreams, rather than motorcycles, which is what the public has in mind. This mission says:
"We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments."
We are going to see how their promotional strategy keeps the track of their mission statement, and how they try always to fulfill those dreams.
Harley-Davidson uses advertising and personnel selling for their promotional mix. The advertising that Harley-Davidson utilizes nationally are four to five television commercials a year. These commercials are institutional because they are advertising the company and not a specific product. They also have institutional advertisements in national magazines such as Road & Track, Popular Science, and Fortune as well as specific motorcycle magazines as Easy Rider. Locally, individual Harley-Davidson dealers advertise on the radio and through direct mail. Harley-Davidson uses personnel through their 595 dealerships located throughout the United States. A customer has to go to a dealership in order to purchase a motorcycle. While they are there they are attended to by sales people that answer any questions they have and help them pick out the motorcycle they want.
Harley-Davidson institutes a pull strategy in the promotion of the FXDS-CONV Dyna Convertible. Due to the limited number of dealerships (for example, there are only five in Nashville and the surrounding communities) customers must actively seek out a location to purchase this bike. Also, because so many customers decide to customize their Dyna Convertibles, they must place a special order with the dealer, who in turn must contact intermediaries along the distribution channel in order to satisfy the customer. Further, the fact that demand for Harley motorcycles far exceeds the supply indicates that a pull strategy is in place.
The mass media advertising implemented by Harley-Davidson is intended to reach as many members of the general public as possible. Generally, this type of advertisement is used because of its depth in effectively reaching people. These ads are intended to target both potential repeat customers as well as first time buyers. Locally, C&S Harley-Davidson uses direct mailings to specifically target previous owners of their motorcycles as well as owners of competing brands. The mailings are directed towards specific customers depending on what the message the dealership wants to convey. For instance, when C&S has a benefit picnic, they mail to previous Harley owners, but when a new model year comes out, they mail to their full list which includes both past Harley customers and customers of competing brands. Similar to marketing to the public, dealerships promote their models to institutional buyers through direct mailings. However, they also employ personal selling because it is cost effective to send a sales rep to the institutional buyer's headquarters due to the possibility of generating multiple sales at one time.
The purpose of Harley-Davidson's mass media advertising is to inform and remind. Harley-Davidson's advertisements are not usually geared towards a specific model such as the FXDS-CONV Dyna Convertible, but instead they focus on the allure and mystique of Harley ownership. For those who are unfamiliar with Harley-Davidson, these ads inform customers about the existence of the company and its main product. For those who have purchased Harley products in the past, these ads serve to remind them of the benefits they enjoy through their ownership. The purpose of Harley-Davidson's
personal selling is to persuade customers to purchase their motorcycles, parts, and accessories. A direct response is generated through the contact between the sales representative and the customer.
Harley-Davidson's promotion is designed to move customers from ignorance to awareness. Harley-Davidson's advertisements contain very little if any persuasive material on specific models or comparisons between other brands. Instead, they simply show the product in use in a typical setting. Because Harley-Davidson has built such a strong reputation over the years, much of their promotion occurs through word of mouth. At this stage in the company's long history their main promotional goal is simply to inform customers that the company still exists.
The advertising copy instituted by Harley-Davidson is particularly limited. Beyond simply mentioning the name of the company and the
location of the nearest dealership, no other written message is conveyed. Instead, the company focuses the customer's attention on the art
portion of the advertisement. Generally, this portion of the ad shows a shiny new bike standing alone, or someone riding along in a
picturesque setting. Also, some Harley ads have shown the company logo and nothing else.
At C & S Harley-Davidson their sales force is divided up into three categories: motorcycle sales, parts and accessories, and clothing. The employees are
paid an hourly wage, and the only incentives that are handed out are geared toward motorcycle sales. However, these incentives, consisting of monetary
bonuses, are only given out if the sales person is able to persuade the customer to purchase the extended warranty and service contracts on the bike.
There are dealership incentive trips given out from Harley-Davidson corporate headquarters to the dealerships that sell the most in any one of the sales
categories mentioned above.
C & S Harley-Davidson uses an advertising firm called R. L. Poke that has a database of all current Harley owners and potential customers who have
purchased any make of motorcycle in the past. The dealership uses this list to identify and contact potential customers. Once a customer comes into the
dealership, they are directed toward the area of their interest and waited upon by a sales representative in that specific area. Depending on the wants and
needs of the customer, the sales representative acts in a manner such to satisfy that customer's desires. For instance, in the realm of motorcycle sales,
typically the salesman asks about the customer's riding history and the particular characteristics of a motorcycle that they are interested in. In
determining the right product at the right price for the customer, the sales representative stresses the high quality parts and engineering characteristic of
Harley products, as well as the different customization options that make owning a Harley a truly unique experience.
Harley-Davidson utilizes both publicity and public relations to garner a more positive image for the company. They receive publicity from such celebrities
as Jay Leno and Wynonna Judd. These celebrities enjoy riding motorcycles and wear Harley-Davidson apparel and yet receive no benefits from the
company. Since they are such high-profile celebrities, their pictures are often taken and are published in the mass media. For instance Jay Leno was one
of the Master of Ceremonies at Harley-Davidson's 95th Anniversary. Another example of publicity that Harley-Davidson receives comes from the
November 1998 issue of Popular Mechanics that's front cover is entitled "Hot for Harleys!" The issue detailed Harley's history, current events, and the
mystique of owning a Harley. Harley-Davidson manages public relations through organizing and hosting such events as their charity picnic for the
Muscular Dystrophy Association sponsored by Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.). This is a large event that attracts several different forms of media
According to Tim Cooper, general manager of C & S Harley-Davidson, several years ago the company tried to implement a program to determine the
cost-effectiveness of their promotions. However, this was too difficult to do because of all the external factors, such as word of mouth advertisement, that
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