BRAND MANAGEMENT 6M:223:EXC
After near extinction Harley-Davidson has become one of the premier motorcycle manufacturers and distributors in the world. A primary driver in this success has been their attention to building the Harley-Davidson brand with attention to customer loyalty, specifically with the creation of a brand community of customers – the Harley Owners Group (HOG). Through HOG they have been able to connect with customers at the grass-roots level. Their sponsorship of regional and national HOG events has provided them with one-on-one access to their customers, resulting in strong, favorable, and ...view middle of the document...
They are motorcycle enthusiasts themselves and take part in many of the events organized, either as a part of the management or as customers. This ‘pressing of the flesh’ allows management to better understand the motivations and needs of the Harley consumer.
H.O.G. Strategy and Performance
HOG has been phenomenally successful at attracting members and chapters throughout the world. Since its inception in 1983 it has grown to half a million members in 1999. This is the core of Harley-Davidson's market, with the Hog Tales magazine as the primary communication tool to reach these avid owners. This is particularly important for Harley-Davidson given that its customers are so varied making it hard to reach them through traditional marketing methods. HOG overcomes the wide differences in its membership by focusing on their common passion, motorcycle riding.
HOG builds brand community and dispels the image of Harley owners as Hell's Angels gangs, as the majority if new owners are middle to upper class, with also increasing ownership by women. Retaining Harley owners is also financially beneficial, as Harley estimates that active HOG members spend an extra $1,000 a year with the company.
Maximizing H.O.G and The Posse Ride
Given that HOG serves to retain and reach customers by building a brand community, the Posse Rides serve to create a brand within the brand. Building on this are the Posse Oath and a prized Posse t-shirt, unique brand elements that create a sense of community. As an example, Lisa Laundry describes Harley as "a mystique, a lifestyle as opposed to a brand." This kind of awe is mixed with a cultist sense of community and Americana, as the Posse Rides focuses on the hard-core rider - allowing these individuals to differentiate themselves from the larger group of Harley owners. The first Posse Ride was a big success, giving participants bragging rights that they promptly exercised on return to their HOG chapters.
No doubt that The Posse Rides are an important part of the HOG annual events calendar. From a marketing perspective they provide a unique advertisement, in the form of a two-mile long rolling billboard for Harley. Seeing a diverse group of riders - old and young, male and female – the Posse Riders project an open, inclusive image for Harley.
While the visual promotional effect of the Posse Rides should be exploited as much as possible, commercializing them should be avoided. The Posse participants are Harley's best customers and this event should be an opportunity to reward them, not exploit them. The indirect benefits, such as building brand awareness and loyalty, are much more important than short-term sales. ...