Posted: August 12th, 2013
TO: Vice President, Marketing
FROM: Product Manager
DATE: 8 Jan 2013
SUBJECT: Report on Branding of Harley Davidson Motorcycles
Branding plays an important role in the creation of a business relationship between the product produced by a certain company and the emotional perception of the consumer. Consequently, the main role of branding entails enhancing loyalty among clients and creating a competitive edge over competitors. Therefore, branding is entirely efficient in product management since it plays a crucial part in ensuring that a firm retains its customers by developing physical and emotional relationships with the products and their constituents and addressing customers psychologically based on the brand personality. In order to affirm the importance of branding in marketing, it is crucial to consider the American motorcycle firm, Harley Davidson.
Harley Davidson’s Traditional Targeting and Positioning Strategy
Traditionally, Harley Davidson products were marketed to white American men of the older generation. According to Hagerty (2011), the motorcycles were marketed to white men who are over 35 years. Regarding the price, Harley Davidson motorcycles embrace relatively high prices. Additionally, the firm offers premium products. Both of these reasons clarify the fact that much of the motorcycle consumer base only constitutes older individuals and thus does not factor in the youthful consumers. This is because these consumers are not in the financial condition to purchase the products. Based on market positioning, the firm dominates the American motorcycle market accounting for 55 percent of the market share against competitors such as Yamaha Motors and Honda Motors (Hagerty, 2011).
Harley Davidson’s Brand Personality
Harley Davidson motorcycles are iconic. These motorcycles represent individual freedom and rugged distinctiveness. Much of this attitude is attributed to the 1969 film, Easy Rider, which depicted the use of the motorcycles as objects that represented roughness and independence. The Harley Davidson brand, logo and products, represent being one with a cluster of outdoor and typical persons. The animal that would best represent the Harley Davidson product is the eagle. The eagle has also been used as one of the symbols of the Harley Davidson motorcycle because it represents free spiritedness, freedom, fierce individuality, brave and wild. The motorcycles also represent a bully personality. This is because bullies tend to be loud, strong, masculine, dominant, rugged and rebellious. These features are mostly represented by Harley Davidson motorcycles. Irrespective of the aspects that the firm’s competitors focus on such as speed, Harley Davidson motorcycles focus on providing emotional and self-expressive benefits to their consumers.
Harley Davidson Marketing Strategies to Target Women and the Aged
Harley Davidson has been known to appeal to men especially considering the brand personality that the motorcycles represent. Usually, motorcycles are known to be a masculine sport. However, Harley Davidson is committed in growing and developing women motorcyclists. Presently, women represent a considerable part of the workforce, receive larger incomes and have greater disposable income. This presents an opportunity for the firm to capitalize on women. For instance, the firm reaches women by creating motorcycles with lower seats to make it easy for women to handle. The model created for women, and young adults is the Sportster model, which is sleeker and light weighted compared to the Gray model. Additionally, the firm is developing smaller models that are not as bulky as the current models (Hagerty, 2011). The firm is also using female celebrities to appeal to women by displaying the female celebrities riding the motorcycles. Moreover, the firm is attempting to reach older, and aging people through its three-wheel model, the Ultra Classic Trike, to make it easy for the aged to handle the motorcycles by providing balance and reducing the effort exerted in controlling the trikes (Johnson, 2011).
Effects of Harley Davidson’s Women Targeting Strategies on Males and Current Buyers
In order to recover from the economic slump the firm faced after the global recession, Harley Davidson has been focusing on attracting potential women clients in order to capitalize on the developing market. However, the possibility of employing aggressive targeting strategies on women can lead to the firm experiencing a backlash from males and current buyers. According to Fournier (1998), brands create emotional interdependence on their respective customers. By aggressively targeting women, the firm will fail to concentrate on the original brand, which was meant to attract the male market. Since the Harley Davidson motorcycles create emotional relationships, male clients will retaliate due to the creation of models that border on attaching female personalities to a brand that was meant to be male-oriented. Additionally, Fournier (1998) asserts that consumers humanize brands, which in turn forges the relationship between them and the products. This factor can lead to a backlash from male consumers since the firm focuses much on targeting women, such that it draws the humanistic male brand from the men and current buyers.
Use of Celebrities to Brand the Company and its Products
A celebrity that can be used to market Harley Davidson motorcycles is Hugh Jackman. Popularly portrayed as the motorcycle riding Wolverine in the X-Men series, the actor can be a good celebrity to market the firm due to his rugged nature and free spiritedness. Additionally, customers would associate psychologically with Jackman due to his Wolverine character due to the roughness, individuality and heroism portrayed by the character. Endorsing celebrities for marketing purposes has its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the benefits associated with this is the personification of the brand. This is because celebrities put their face on the product and assist in attracting the target market to purchase the product since it relates to the favorite celebrity. Another advantage is that it enhances the image of the product. Thirdly, it enables maintenance of consumer loyalty since customers obtain a personal connection to the celebrity brands. However, using celebrities in marketing brands also leads to consequences. For instance, this marketing requires huge finances to execute especially on the part of the firm. Moreover, using celebrities requires selection and positioning of people that appeal to the psychographic and demographic aspect of the consumers. If the aspects were not considered, then the firm would end up amassing losses related in decreased consumer spending.
Branding plays a crucial role in product management. For Harley Davidson motorcycles, branding is suited specifically to attract and sustain potential and current customers respectively. Traditionally, branding focused on attracting older adults, particularly men. However, with women and young adults expressing enthusiasm and interest in the products, it is important for the firm that will appeal and be easy fro use by the newly target market composed of women, young people and the aged.
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