INTRODUCTION: BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE COMPANY
The Harley Davidson Inc. is the only motorcycle manufacturing company situated in the United States. It was founded in 1903 by William Harley and Arthur Davidson. The company is responsible for designing, assembling, and marketing touring, custom, and cruiser motorcycles. The company’s motorcycles are known for their brand, style, strength, individuality, and freedom (Das & Ara 2014). According to Heskett (2018), the company’s profits had been declining in the past years due to competition from lower-valued motorcycles and customers who preferred lighter and foreign-made motorcycles.
BACKGROUND TO THE ISSUE
Men have primarily been the loyal customers of Harley-Davidson Inc. However, today there is a significant shift in motorcycling demographics as women are playing a greater role in the motorcycling community (Shane-Nichols 2020). Notably, women have been riding motorcycles manufactured by Harley Davidson Company. However, women motorcyclists have been facing gender-based barriers and lack of appreciation for their accomplishments and have been termed as norm breakers during the 20th century (Shane-Nichols,2020). Despite the ridicule and stereotypes, Harley-Davidson went ahead and started a campaign in the early 21st century that encouraged women to own and ride motorcycles. Hence the company experienced a remarkable growth until the economic crisis of 2007-2008, which led to a major setback in the company’s overall sales. Roth (2020) also affirms that Harley Davidson Inc. sold fewer motorcycles in 2019 than it had in the previous eight years.
According to Barrett (2013) women have become a crucial demographic for Harley Davidson as they have brought about the next generation of motorcyclists; A generation that has learned that riding motorcycles is not all about being strong, but rather riding motorcycles is a matter of technique and poise. To boost its market share, Harley Davidson Company intends to incorporate a wider female audience than it had during its 2018 campaign called “More Roads to Harley Davidson” (Roth 2018). This means that the company is inspiring to engage a new generation of buyers, specifically women.
REQUESTED COMMUNICATION RESEARCH
To achieve this objective, we would conduct both qualitative and quantitative research to gain insight into completing our strategy. First, we would utilize online surveys where we could reach a greater sample size of the female audience. The target of the online survey is a sample size of at least 300 respondents. The participants would include loyal Harley Davidson customers as well as customers who are loyal to other brands. Crucial data that would be collected under an online survey would include demographic information such as age, marital status, level of education, and income.
Similarly, the respondents would be requested to share their reasons for preferring Harley Davidson brands and the features that are crucial to them when procuring motorcycles. In addition, the online survey would be used to gather information on the respondent’s purchasing behavior, that is, how frequently they buy motorcycles and how many are in their possession. The respondents would also share information on the kind of improvements they would like Harley Davidson motorcycles to have. Finally, the online survey would gather information on how the respondents perceive motorcycles from Harley Davidson Company and the channels they use to explore and acquire motorcycles.
The second methodology that we would use to gather information would be face-to-face interviewing, where participant consent would be secured before interviews are conducted. Twenty respondents would be targeted for interviewing through a semi-structured approach. This approach would allow us to be flexible in adapting to the ideas the respondents would put across. Open-ended questions would be used to allow the interviewer to implore the respondents’ perception of the Harley Davidson brand. The questions would include the challenges they experience as a female motorcycle enthusiast and their opinions on current Harley Davidson marketing strategies among female riders.
Consequently, we will ask their opinion on whether the company should modify some of its brands to resonate and appeal to female motorcyclists. This is because one of the threats facing the company is the constant change in consumer tastes (Roth 2020). The interviewees would also be asked whether the company’s current products accurately represent them as riders and whether being a part of the Harley Davidson community would influence them in any way.
To allow further exploration of female motorcycle riders and how best Harley Davidson Inc. would engage with them, virtual and non-virtual focus groups would be an ideal qualitative data collection method. Virtual focus groups are specially an advantageous method of data collection as they help participants to be flexible and thus can join the conversation from their comfort of their homes (Marques & Theiss 2020). This method would help to gain insight into vital issues such as safety concerns as female riders and the emotional benefits of owning a motorcycle. In addition, the respondents will be requested to shed light on whether they feel like accepted members of the motorcycling community and whether they feel like they underwent a process to become a member.
Subsequently, the respondents would be asked to give their opinions on the existing efforts that Harley Davidson is making to pool together women riders. For instance, the company has been organizing garage parties where experienced female riders are encouraged to tag along with their female friends to Harley dealerships, where the parties take place (Barrett 2013). The parties are free of charge, and guests are allowed to ask questions freely without having to feel humiliated. The focus groups would therefore give their views regarding such campaigns and what can be done to improve them and engage more participants in the Harley Davidson community.
CREATIVE BRIEF OF THE STRATEGY
-To increase engagement with female motorcycle riders by 10% in the next year.
-To intensify Harley Davidson’s market share among female riders and stabilize the current customer base.
-To instigate Harley Davidson Inc. as a brand that meets the needs of female motorcycle enthusiasts.
-Female motorcyclist across all age brackets looking to be part of a well-established motorcycle community.
-Female motorcyclists looking for a sense of empowerment and belonging through the motorcycle community.
-Independent and adventurous female motorcyclists looking for a premium riding experience.
The content strategy will entail an emphasis on empowerment and a sense of adventure that accompanies motorcycle riding. In addition, the content strategy would include the exceptional experience that Harley Davidson offers to female motorcyclists. Real female riders would be showcased to share their experience in motorcycling culture and also highlight the features they find unique in Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram will be used to reach the target audience. Our channel will also involve online ads and experiential marketing events, where influencer marketing, in collaboration with experienced female riders, will be used to promote the Harley Davidson brand.
Our strategy would be implemented in two segments during the year’s summer season to match the motorcycling season. The first segment will revolve around creating awareness through social media and online advertisements. Thereafter, the second phase will include empirical marketing events that will give potential clients first-hand experience with motorcycles.
The success of our strategy will be based assessed based on the increase in female clients. Our target being a 10% increase in the next year, the number of female riders we will have managed to add to the Harley Davidson motorcycle community will be our determinant for our strategy’s success. Similarly, we will measure our success based on social media metrics such as comments and likes.
The number of female attendees at our marketing events will also help to determine how efficacious our strategy in achieving the objective will be. Finally, we will conduct a post-campaign survey to get feedback from our target audience, thus helping us to get a glimpse of how effective the strategy was.
MESSAGE, SLOGAN, AND COPIES
MESSAGE: The message will emphasize on providing a platform in which female motorcyclists can connect and share their experiences freely, both virtually and non-virtually. Furthermore, there will be an emphasis on emerging market trends such as e-motorcycles that the clients can find attractive. The message will also focus on the unique characteristics of Harley Davidson motorcycles and how women riders can be empowered.
SLOGAN: To communicate our message of empowerment of women riders, we propose the slogan, “Ride like a queen. Be adventurous. Experience the ultimate riding experience. Ride Harley”.
COPIES: We will use copies that highlight the unique features of the motorcycles, as well as those that celebrate the female motorcyclists, in a bid to communicate the brand’s message of women riders’ empowerment.
Our proposed strategy, that is, building a relatable brand image through showcasing of real female riders and providing potential clients with first-hand experience of the motorcycles will aid in increasing their market share among female audience. Undoubtedly, our approach to achieving the objective will help build a connection with female riders and drive brand loyalty. For instance, by celebrating female riders’ experiences, brand awareness and engagement with the target audience will be achieved. The research methodologies that we will use to gather information will help us to recognize the preferences of our customers, thus, the company will be able to come up with merchandise that resonates with them. Use of digital platforms such as Twitter and Facebook will help us reach a wider audience hence increasing Harley Davidson brands’ perceptibility.
Barrett R. 2013, ‘In quest to expand market, Harley-Davidson reaches out to women’, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Das K. K. & Ara A. 2014 ‘Harley Davidson’ Success Speaks- Brand Image and culture: An HR Perspective’, Bonfring International Journal of Industrial engineering and Management Science, vol. 4, no. 2.
Heskett, J., 2018, What should Harley Davidson’s management do? Harvard Business School, viewed 2 May 2023, <https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/what-should-harley-davidson-s-management-do>
Roth J. 2020, ‘Case study Harley Davidson: Reaching millennials through product innovations at Harley Davidson’. ResearchGate Publication.
Shane-Nichols, A. J. 2020, ‘A qualitative exploration of female Harley-Davidson apparel wearer’s symbolic expression of identities through dress’ Graduate Theses and Dissertation, viewed 2 May 2023, <https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/17829>
Theiss L. M & Marques I. C. 2020, ‘Implementation of virtual focus groups for qualitative data collection in a global pandemic’, Elsevier, vol. 221, no. 5.