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Harley Davidson Marketing Strategies Essay

1306 words - 5 pages

In 1903, 21-year old William S. Harley and 20-year old Arthur Davidson the first production Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was hand-built in a small garage in Milwaukee. Today, Harley-Davidson, Inc. employs more than 8,200 people and has 1,110 dealership worldwide. Its corporate headquarters are still located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The domestic production facilities are in the Milwaukee area, East Troy and Tomahawk, Wisconsin; York, Pennsylvania; and Kansas City, Missouri. Design, customer focus and sales have placed this company is in a very unique and desirable marketing situation.Design is critical to the continued success of this company. For some companies, the word design may bring thoughts of sweeping changes and new model lines. However, for the design team at Harley-Davidson, it inspires thoughts of being faithful to the classic lines and sounds of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. This is not to say that the designers are not allowed and encouraged to improve on the hugely successful line of motorcycles, just the opposite is true. Ken Schmidt, director of communications for Harley-Davidson, stated that: "We are constantly improving and modernizing the machine, yet not every component. That is what our customers want, and that's also, I believe, what sparks the strong emotional attachments that Harleys generate."In the early 1980's, the company was plagued with quality control and reliability issues that nearly caused the company to go out of business. At this point, it was up to the design and quality control engineers to revamp the mechanical and electrical portions while staying true to the classic line of the motorcycle. They succeeded in resolving the problems and saved the company. William G. Davidson, who heads up a team of five product designers, is quick to add, "It's important to understand that we're not in the business of making antiques. Every year we make further improvements to our engines and chassis. But from a styling standpoint, we have to incorporate improvements without compromising `the look.' If we move a bolt or re-route one hose, our customers take note and call us on it. A Harley isn't shrouded in fiberglass like so many other bikes. Everything we do is right out in the open." This mindset prevents lifelong riders from feeling alienated and accusing the company of "selling out" in the pursuit of increased revenue and profits. Harley-Davidson understands that it is as important to maintain their current enthusiasts as it is to develop new ones. No where is this more evident than in their mission statement: "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."Customer focus is another area of marketing where this company excels. Factory sponsored rallies and test drives are just two ways that Harley stays in touch with their customers. The largest sponsored...

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