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Indian Motorcycle Marketing Strategy

I wish I could re-blog Cyril Huze blog post about Indian Motorcycles Marketing Strategy, but I can’t. So I am going to copy it, all credits go to Cyril Huze Blog. Pictures are provided by Cyril Huze Blog.

Enjoy! This is worth the 5 minutes of your time to read this article. It will give you perspective of Indian Motorcycles Vs. Harley Davidson.

Cyril-Huze-Indian-Ad-1

 

Choice is coming to American motorcycles. Are you of the Harley-Davidson or Indian Motorcycle type? Of both? It is my opinion that the motorcycle industry needs another high profile American motorcycle brand and that the Indian launch will positively disrupt the market, growing our industry, creating a healthy competition primarily with Harley-Davidson and marginally with other V-Twin brands, American or foreign.

Let me first mention that all decision-makers and strategists involved in the Indian Motorcycle re-launch – I talked several times to most of them – have the highest respect for Harley-Davidson. They also know that by offering very soon another American choice to bikers they are going to re-activate the pre-1953 rivalry, both on the road and on the track. I don’t know anyone, biker or professional from the industry complaining about an up-coming competition between the two brands.

During the last 50 years motorcycling has become socially respectable. In the ’90s, for whatever reasons (I may develop this topic in another post), the upper class of lawyers, doctors, real estate developers, dentists, etc started to ride expensive Harleys, playing the biker outlaws on weekends and during a couple of big rallies like Daytona and Sturgis. Harley-Davidson sold a lot of bikes to them until many Rich Urban Bikers looked for other ways to have fun. Then in 2008, the US recession hit hard with Harley-Davidson realizing that its core clientele was soon getting too old to ride, and started courting not only younger potential bikers, but also pursuing all sort of hobbyists in many social categories, either women, Latinos, blacks. In addition, Harley started  focusing its efforts on foreign markets like Asia to compensate for what Harley sees as a very low potential for growth in the USA, probably for the next 10 years. It is well known that many core Harley bikers, right or wrong, feel alienated by Milwaukee’s last years strategy (and it includes foreign made parts assembled on its “American” motorcycles) and would abandon Harley for another American brand like Indian if the opportunity was given to them…

Cyril-Huze-Indian-Ad-2

In this context, can Polaris seriously compete with Harley-Davidson with its new Indian model(s)? No denial that Harley is and will remain a legend. But the Indian brand remains iconic around the world despite the fact that the final production run of the final genuine Indians (the Blackhawk, a version of the side-valve 80-inch Chief) came in 1953. Also despite several failed attempts to re-launch the brand. After 60 years of “silence”, in terms of “good will” towards the brand, Indian is at least as powerful, if not more, than Harley is. With the right bikes, it says a lot about the potential of Indian to rival with Harley-Davidson motorcycle and biker gear offering.

Indianengine1      Indianengine2

The marketing and advertising gurus handling the Polaris launch of the new Indian motorcycle(s) are acutely aware that relaunching such an icon can be tricky. Expectations are so high… Success will depend on the bike(s) themselves (design & technology), on their price(s) and of course on the way Indian establishes its marketing position statement versus the competition. Credibility? As of today, especially after unveiling the brand new Thunder Stroke 111, Polaris has already convinced the motorcycle industry, media and the vast majority of bikers that they understand the culture, are able to offer an Indian engine “honoring the past and powering the future.”. Succeeding, as Indian says “at capturing the iconic design and styling aspects of the 112-year old brand’s most historic models and fusing that heritage with state-of-the-art technology and progressive design elements.” Price of its new model(s)? I guess we will know soon, and it will affect the percentage of people jumping ship right away for Indian (By the way, how many have already postponed a new or used Harley purchase until the new Indian is unveiled?) Marketing and advertising strategy? It is evidenced by the 2 new Indian Motorcycle ads illustrating this article. Who is going to ride the new Indian? 1- All those who identify themselves as core bikers, not hobbyists (ad number 1). 2- All those who stand apart, who want to challenge the status quo, who understand and live the lifestyle (Ad number 2) 3- All those who, since a long time and for whatever reason, wish to have an American brand alternative to Harley-Davidson…

indian-motorcycle-story

So, will Polaris take in a couple of years with its Indian Motorcycle brand a very significant share of the Harley-Davidson domestic market? Now is your turn to tell me and all readers: which brand do you identify yourself the most with (look again at the 2 ads I feature); your overall thoughts about Indian’s product/marketing/advertising strategy; what do you feel Indian’s chances are to succeed; and if you are a Harley or V-Twin motorcycle rider, if you would be willing to switch right away for the new Indian motorcycle to be unveiled in a few months, or purchase one as a second bike.

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