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Harley-Davidson's Marketing Strategy Overcame Competition

How Harley-Davidson's Marketing strategy has Overcome Fierce Competition from Foreign Companies

As many enthusiasts may describe it, the pride of owning a Harley-Davidson is the pride of owning an 'American Icon'. Harley-Davidson's (HD) positioning strategy can best be defined by its 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." Now in its 100th year, however, the ideal of owning an 'American Icon' has slowly dwindled out of the public's mind, due mostly to the competition from Japanese manufacturers like Honda and Yamaha. HD's strength's of its powerful brand image, maintaining good customer relationships, strong financial position, and superiority of technology and design are hindered by its weaknesses related to product capacity and unfulfilled demand for their products2.

Strategic Direction and Marketing Objectives

HD has chosen the strategic direction of targeting a younger market that is technologically conscious in order to increase its share in the performance cruiser market space. With the introduction of the new V-Rod motorcycle, HD is in a position of attaining a sizeable share in the performance cruiser marketplace. To target the younger market with the new product line, the company has adopted the following marketing objectives: to expand its current market (market expansion), diversify its product line (product diversification), and modify its marketing mix to target a younger demographic.

During the 1970's, HD was facing a decline in market share due to increased competition with Japanese companies. By phasing out weak models, becoming more selective, and limiting sales and promotions, HD was able to carve out a niche in the marketplace which it enjoys today3. Now again faced with a period of decline, HD is relying on its newly adopted marketing objectives. First, HD needs to expand its potential customer base to include enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts males in the 35-44 age group. (INSERT MEDIAMARK DATA HERE) This is accomplished through the introduction of the V-Rod and positioning it in the market to a younger demographic. Secondly, HD needs to position the V-Rod to also appeal to first time buyers of motorcycles. HD's strong brand identity can help pull in new clients. Third, HD has to set an appropriate marketing mix that will help attract a younger consumer base. By using the low-end approach, which involves attracting a young audience to a brand name product with...

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