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Archive for June 5th, 2009

ClownI’ve written previously that Harley-Davidson has been losing traction in worldwide motorcycle sales and is pushing a marketing strategy that focuses on attracting more Latino-centric customers and other racial minorities to the biker lifestyle.

With costly and parallel marketing efforts the company is pushing multi-generational and multi-cultural marketing campaigns.  Like a circus clown juggling all balls, H-D is trying to attract minorities, boost sales with younger riders, promote the female factor which is geared to attracting women riders and at the same time maintain just enough focus on baby boomers, who as a group, have been the historical sales engine for the company.  Complex to say the least and it makes me wonder if a ball will get dropped.

By catering to the booming Latino population does Harley stand to alienate its core customer base?  Will the American public soon be seeing Harley-Davidson Supermercado dealers which focus only on Latino’s?  I don’t know.  It’s been reported that there are currently 49M Hispanics in the U.S. with nearly $1.1Trillion in purchasing power.  Today they make up 16% of the U.S. population.  It’s estimated that by 2050 Hispanics will make up 30%, eight years after Caucasians’ fall below 50% of the U.S. population.  America is witnessing a demographic revolution that is largely driven by Hispanics.  Purchasing power is the after-tax personal income people have to spend on virtually everything from necessities like food, clothing and housing to luxuries like recreational equipment and vacations.

So it’s logical to think that some Harley dealers will need to make local adjustments or conversions to a Hispanic orientation.  Similar to how a neighborhood-market-oriented ethnic food store needs to continue to reinvent around customer-centric shoppers.   It’s a wakeup call for H-D.  However, there are other factors which seem to make motorcycle sales culturally indifferent.  For example nearly one in ten of the nation’s 22M Latino workers (9.7%) are unemployed.  According to Pew Hispanic Center survey one in ten Latino homeowners reported missing a mortgage payment.  This mirrors all other multi-culture sectors of the population in the U.S. so, I wonder if Harley’s expectations of the Latino community isn’t aggressive or wishful thinking?  Another data point is the Hispanic “Mass Affluent” households.  Defined by Mintel as those with between $100K and $1M in investable assets and which currently comprise 10% of the U.S. population.  The Hispanic Mass Affluents reported they cut down or deferred overall spending because of the recession.  Sound familiar?

It’s my view that until H-D makes a decision to hire an executive VP similar to Wal-Mart’s Jose Antonio Fernandez and learns how to serve Latinos from experiences obtained in Latin America/Mexico….they aren’t super serious about merchandising the way Hispanics shop.  Until then we’ll continue to see Hispanic marketing around the edges such as this casting call announcement where H-D is encouraging all Latino Riders….aka Harlistas to share their story in a documentary which is being directed by Alfredo de Villa.  H-D’s manager of market outreach, Karina Jaramillo-Saa, states that the film will encapsulate the spirit of Harlistas and H-D wants to share the passion of Latino riders with the rest of the world.

The documentary feels like the continued isolation of an ethnic enclave.  Is Harley-Davidson guilty of an innocent lapse in judgment here or is there truly racial overtones?  The public was polled and the documentary research indicates Latino riders are best to share motorcycle passion via a film?  What about a female-only casting call or a Caucasian-only casting call and documentary?  Wake up H-D!  It’s about assimilation of ALL riders and sharing the passion with the world?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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Mac Motorcycle 

Mac Motorcycle

Choosing a name, either for a product or a whole company, is not an easy task.  Every serious prospect is typically registered to one company or another — often car manufacturers — and although many are not in actual use, the right to that name, and all the possible variations or abbreviation of it, are most often blocked. And as with styling, names follow fashion, and manufacturers are always anxious to show they are more up-to-date than their rivals.

It’s with this backdrop I want to bring your attention to Mac Motorcycles.  Whoa, two of my passions…both in the same company name! Obviously it captured my attention.  Not only that, but as a teenager I was captivated with drawing hot rods and motorcycles.  I drew lots of them, but frankly they were crap so when I see terrific illustrations I feel the need to stop and look! 

Ellis Pitt, is the founder and he teamed up with Mark Wells & Ian Wride of Xenophya Design when working and riding the Nottinghamshire roadworks of the M-1 (UK).  They employed some experienced and passionate designers and engineers and worked towards the goal of becoming a provider of a simple to maintain motorcycle with chopper/bobber roots. There would be nothing beyond the bare bone requirements and it would have lines of a rigid frame, yet disguise a full suspension.  It would use the Harley-Davidson/Buell ‘Blast’ motor to exploit its shape and lightweight chassis.  The bottom line was the goal to bring flat-track manners to the spirit of motorcycling.

Being powered by the Buell single cylinder, air-cooled, 2-valve, push rod, 492cc, 5-speed engine means the ‘Mac’ bikes have very light rolling-chassis.   The stock motors produce 34 HP at 6500 RPM, but a bolt-on big-bore kit (515 cc), Andrews Cams, a Mikuni HSR 42 carb’, Screamin’ Eagle ignition and a Supertrapp exhaust help it to produce around 50 HP at 7200 RPM. Plenty of “scoot” and remember that a Blast motor running an NRHS 515 kit set a record at Bonneville in the 650 class.

The sketch is eye candy, but the finished product looks sweeter.

Photo courtesy of Mac Motorcycles.

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