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 Harley-Davidson survey
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 05/06/2017 :  10:31 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend                        Like
I spent an hour on the phone last week with a company that was conducting a survey for an undisclosed motorcycle manufacturer. I mean the survey took slightly more than an hour in that with each response I provided we launched into a spirited, well informed, UNBIASED, in-depth discussion of that response.

The questions I was asked were very interesting and provided meaningful insights as to that manufacturer's concerns. (So there is no doubt here, I learned at the end of the survey that it was Harley-Davidson.)

Examples:

1) As the age of motorcyclists increases, fewer of them elect (or can) buy new large motorcycles. What do they do, instead of buying if they wish to stay involved in the sport?

2) As new bike sales decline, there will be about 100 million used bikes on the market. How do dealerships compete in that market against private sellers?

3) Is it likely that the trend toward autonomous automobiles (driverless) will result in legislation that precludes the use of motorcycles on highways?

4) Which motorcycle manufacturer has the best reputation for technology?

5) What technology is missing or needs improvement on motorcycles?

6) What advantages does H-D have in the motorcycle marketplace?

7) To what extent does 'image' affect future sales and what can be done to improve or take advantage of that image?


How about offering your responses to these questions here for the rest of our readers to read?

DataDan
Advanced Member
542 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 05/06/2017 :  8:55 PM
Thank you for sharing that. It's interesting that Harley senses tough times ahead and is reaching out to the community for an independent perspective. I assume that you weren't chosen randomly, but as an expert from outside the industry.

I recently did an analysis that got me wondering how the motorcycle industry sees its mid- to long-term future and what they have in mind to deal with it. In 1985, the average motorcycle owner age was 28 (Motorcycle Industry Council survey) and the middle of the Baby Boom generation (usually defined as births 1946-64) was age 30. In 1998, it was 38 and 43. In 2010 it was 49 and 55.

So, for the past 40 years, it is the Baby Boomers who have driven the rise, fall, and rise of the motorcycle market--not solely, but in great part. In our 20s we drove the skyrocketing sales of the 1970s and 1980s. As we hit middle age in the 1990s, we put motorcycles aside, and the industry was crushed as sales dropped by 60%. Then with empty nests and fat paychecks at the turn of the century, we came back to bikes and sales tripled.

That progression raises the obvious question of what will happen when we're too old to ride, because subsequent generations haven't taken up motorcycling in the nearly the numbers we did.

quote:
Originally posted by James R. Davis
1) As the age of motorcyclists increases, fewer of them elect (or can) buy new large motorcycles. What do they do, instead of buying if they wish to stay involved in the sport?

I suspect the Baby Boom generation is fast approaching a point where they will not be riding motorcycles at all. Scooters and small bikes may get some love for around-town transportation, but I don't see that as a tidal force. We like big, cool motorcycles for socializing and traveling. Not for a trip to the Kwik-E-Mart for a six-pack.

quote:
2) As new bike sales decline, there will be about 100 million used bikes on the market. How do dealerships compete in that market against private sellers?

By adding value: taking over the sales job for the sellers and providing convenience and quality assurance to buyers. By selling on consignment (or just buying outright), dealers can relieve a seller of problems that might arise when dealing with Craigslist respondents. For buyers they can arrange financing. They can do needed maintenance and repairs. They might even be able to provide a warranty.

quote:
3) Is it likely that the trend toward autonomous automobiles (driverless) will result in legislation that precludes the use of motorcycles on highways?

IMHO, not in the foreseeable future. It seems now like autonomous car technology is progressing fast, but I think that's mainly hype from slick corporate promoters. And there are literally hundreds of millions of vehicles on the road today that will never be autonomous.

quote:
5) What technology is missing or needs improvement on motorcycles?

Some of us don't give a rip about cutting edge technology on our motorcycles. OK, I love ABS, and I've come to like the electronic cruise control and heated grips on my FJR. But if what they have in mind are features like integrated communication and mapping technology, I would rather not have it.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6890 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 05/07/2017 :  8:33 AM
I'll give it a shot:
quote:
1) As the age of motorcyclists increases, fewer of them elect (or can) buy new large motorcycles. What do they do, instead of buying if they wish to stay involved in the sport?
Either ride the old one longer or buy used. I've had my two current bikes for eight and six years. I'm not looking to replace either one in the near future.
quote:
2) As new bike sales decline, there will be about 100 million used bikes on the market. How do dealerships compete in that market against private sellers?
I don't have an answer to that one. When I visit the various dealers around here, I ask how they're doing. Currently, most of them indicate that they're hanging in there. Then I make some lame comment about wishing I could buy a bunch of new bikes from them, but I can't do that. Most of the bikes that I've owned have been purchased used. Only four were purchased from dealers and two of those were "slightly used" when I got them.
quote:
3) Is it likely that the trend toward autonomous automobiles (driverless) will result in legislation that precludes the use of motorcycles on highways?
I don't think we'll get to that point in my lifetime. There might be a few restricted roads, but I don't see it getting beyond that.
quote:
4) Which motorcycle manufacturer has the best reputation for technology?
At a minimum, Ducati, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki advance technology. I don't see a single leader in that area.
quote:
5) What technology is missing or needs improvement on motorcycles?
In my opinion, we've already gone too far in adding new features to motorcycles. I like the old reliable ones that don't have computers controlling things. I feel the same about cars too. I refuse to buy something with keyless ignition, for example.
quote:
6) What advantages does H-D have in the motorcycle marketplace?
H-D has more loyal customers than any other manufacturer. They have more people who won't even consider something else. Me, I'm not brand loyal and buy what meets my needs at the time. I have considered the Harley XR1200X, but that's probably the only one that I've ever seriously considered. H-D isn't interesting to those of us who don't like cruiser-style feet-forward motorcycles. If I wanted a big long distance touring bike, I would seriously look at a Road King, though.
quote:
7) To what extent does 'image' affect future sales and what can be done to improve or take advantage of that image?
Image is big for the H-D types. Not so much for me. I don't actually care what others think of what I ride. I just care about how much fun and enjoyment I'll get from riding a particular bike.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 05/08/2017 :  7:11 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  

1) As the age of motorcyclists increases, fewer of them elect (or can) buy new large motorcycles. What do they do, instead of buying if they wish to stay involved in the sport?

Buy smaller and lighter. Plenty of sport, adventure, touring, standard bikes in the 300-700 cc range.

2) As new bike sales decline, there will be about 100 million used bikes on the market. How do dealerships compete in that market against private sellers?

I'd buy used from a dealer, where they had clean, maintained, inspected bikes, with a 30 day warrantee or offered longer term for a price.

3) Is it likely that the trend toward autonomous automobiles (driverless) will result in legislation that precludes the use of motorcycles on highways?

I don't see that as a requirement. Autonomous need to be able to detect motorcycles, just as they need to detect bicycles, and pedestrians.

4) Which motorcycle manufacturer has the best reputation for technology?

They all seem to invent something.

5) What technology is missing or needs improvement on motorcycles?

Servicing. So many bikes these days make the simplest of jobs into a chore. Plugs, oil changes, air filters should be 5 minute jobs.

6) What advantages does H-D have in the motorcycle marketplace?

Marketing.

7) To what extent does 'image' affect future sales and what can be done to improve or take advantage of that image?

I seem to be in the "you meet the nicest people on a Honda" role, even though I ride a Suzuki. Honda exploded the market at that time. Other than that, I'd rather have an all around competent motorcycle that suits me for around town, trips, capable of unpaved roads, and carrying a passenger. Usable power, good brakes, and decent concerning ability are a must. NO image to project, or wanted. Every motorcycle I've owned, no matter how standard they really were, was to ME the best looking bike on the road.

I think Harley got themselves stuck in an image problem. When they do venture into different fields, IE: Buell, XR1200, V-Rod, Street 500-750, they are sales flops since their brand buyer is looking for the retro big twin image.

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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6890 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 05/08/2017 :  8:59 AM
quote:
Originally posted by rkfire
5) What technology is missing or needs improvement on motorcycles?

Servicing. So many bikes these days make the simplest of jobs into a chore. Plugs, oil changes, air filters should be 5 minute jobs.
I didn't think of that as a technology issue, but I agree that it would be nice if the designers considered how easy or difficult it is to service a bike. KTM has made my 990 Adv extremely difficult to do much more than change tires and lubricate the chain.
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gymnast
Moderator
4267 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 05/08/2017 :  5:35 PM
Great discussion, all responses reasonable and insightful. I am 74 and still ski, when I no can no longer ski, I will no longer ride. I will not be buying another motorcycle in that the ones that I have meet my current needs, in fact, I would like to sell my antique bikes ('69 sprintSS for parts, '71 Sprint SX for easy restoration, a'78 anniversary XL, good to go as original and put on a couple of hundred miles a year on it, no restoration needed, and my "new bike" a 97XL Sport(good to go anywhere, anytime)is NFS for now.

In my opinion HD need to license the production rights to the Volkswagen trike designed by Freeman Thomas (that VW decided not to produce several years ago). It is still state of the art and would blow the socks off the competition, introduce a new demographic for HD, and be a far more versatile vehicle than their current trike.

Autonomous vehicles are going to fill a tremendous for an aging population, and for the disabled in particular. Catch is they will be most efficient when shared and summoned on an "as needed" basis. They will be a real boon to the assisted living set.

HD is a master of marketing and has mastered marketing motorcycling as a social activity to an "older population" with it's HOG club activities, group rides and packaged tours, and rental programs.

Image? HD is like a costume party these days, who really has insights into whats coming in the future. Whatever it will be, HD is trying to get ready for it.
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SteveS
Male Advanced Member
1208 Posts
[Mentor]


Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Harley-Davidson

FLHTK 2012

Posted - 05/17/2017 :  7:48 AM
quote:
Originally posted by James R. Davis

I spent an hour on the phone last week with a company that was conducting a survey for an undisclosed motorcycle manufacturer. I mean the survey took slightly more than an hour in that with each response I provided we launched into a spirited, well informed, UNBIASED, in-depth discussion of that response.

The questions I was asked were very interesting and provided meaningful insights as to that manufacturer's concerns. (So there is no doubt here, I learned at the end of the survey that it was Harley-Davidson.)

Examples:

1) As the age of motorcyclists increases, fewer of them elect (or can) buy new large motorcycles. What do they do, instead of buying if they wish to stay involved in the sport?

2) As new bike sales decline, there will be about 100 million used bikes on the market. How do dealerships compete in that market against private sellers?

3) Is it likely that the trend toward autonomous automobiles (driverless) will result in legislation that precludes the use of motorcycles on highways?

4) Which motorcycle manufacturer has the best reputation for technology?

5) What technology is missing or needs improvement on motorcycles?

6) What advantages does H-D have in the motorcycle marketplace?

7) To what extent does 'image' affect future sales and what can be done to improve or take advantage of that image?


How about offering your responses to these questions here for the rest of our readers to read?



1) they have all the options that others have. Smaller Harley, Triglide, other brands. Several in my HOG Chapter have moved to Triglides in the last 3-5 years.

2) Dealers will continue as now. Attempting to 'sell/provide' ADDED value vs private sales. Also Dealers in the USA are beginning to sell off used bikes by the thousands to Mexico and Canada. Possibly this will move to other countries aaround the globe if there is no increase in trade blocking of US goods in retaliation.

3) I'm 75 and not too concerned about this one, however I suppose it's worth considering. Bikes now have mostly kept up with automobile technology, likely the computers/camers used for driverless vehicles will be adapted somehow.

4) Not sure as I am quite limited in knowledge about various brands but from what little I read it seems like Honda is somewhere near the top.

5) Well on Harley's I would like to see the adaptation of true BLUE TOOTH capability along with their Infotainment system. They are making strides with the new engines, frames, suspension.

6) Brand loyalty, Brand loyalty, Brand loyalty, Brand loyalty,

7) It seems to me that the extremes seem to attract the middle of the bell curve. i.e., speed, muscle, bravado, engineering. Each have their market and following.

I answer with some bias. I've been riding for 14 years now. Started at 61, Always oogled Harleys as a kid in the 40s and 50s. I now am on my 4th with 90,000km on it. Maybe at 80 I will need to move to three wheels or a lighter two wheel bike. I suppose I have to take it year by year at this point.

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