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Posts Tagged ‘demographics’

Concert promotion blew up in the ‘70’s during the development and heyday of classic rock.  Stadiums or festivals were where the gigs took place as music drove the culture and everybody wanted to participate.

Thirty plus years later and along comes the internet.  Suddenly everyone is no longer focused on the same thing and niche was king.  Yet the major music labels continue to play the same old tune of trying to get acts TV exposure and on terrestrial radio with 22-minutes of commercials an hour, but the public is sick of being dictated to by music corporations purveying artists only in it for the buck and have tuned out.   The end result?

Is today’s modern concert business where the average person feels fleeced by excessive fees and high ticket prices and have decided to pass on most concerts.  In fact, ‘twenty-ten’ might go down as the turning point year that devastated the concert business.  Look at the signs from SoundScan.  Arizona concert boycotts.  Cancelled concerts by the Eagles, poor showing for John Mayer, Bon Jovi downsizes the number of cities, the death of Lilith Fair, winery offers for Court Yard Hounds, and the ever popular $10 concert cash coupons if you can drink a dozen 1-litre bottles of Diet Coke at $1.49.  The list goes on.

H-D Tent @ Mayhem

Disregarding the external conditions of the concert promotion sphere, is Harley-Davidson marketing.  Their demographic ‘machine’ determined that ‘twenty-ten’ is the year to double down on seeking young motorcycle buyers and do so at…music concerts!   Huh?

It’s true.  They launched their H-D Golden Horse Saloon at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival two weeks ago in San Bernardino, Ca., in an effort to market to young, edgy potential customers.  The third concert of the tour was last week at the White River Amphitheater, in Auburn, Wa.  The festival includes Korn, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God, Five Finger Death Punch, Hatebreed and several other bands. Last month H-D had a similar set-up at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN.

Rob Zombie (R) and drummer (L)

The goal of any Harley-Davidson special events marketing campaign is to generate awareness and increase sales among the target audience.  It’s well known in music circles that the concert business is in the toilet.  Sure you can talk about the economy, all the external business factors, but they’re secondary to the acts, the music.  It’s doesn’t matter how great the venue is, certainly doesn’t matter how great the promoter is, it comes down to the quality of the act and whether they can draw a crowd.  Given sky high concert prices and that we live in an on-demand world where you experience only that which you want means this demographic outreach/tactic is unlikely to pay motorcycle sales dividends for Harley.

H-D Demographic -- Young Edgy Potential Customer

One notable item…  Mayhem could arguably be the loudest festival on the planet giving the sparse crowds so much ‘metal’ that many will feel aurally violated after the gig.

Photos courtesy of H-D, Mayhem Festival and Rob Zombie.

Bonus: If you’re into this type of ‘Metal’ music mix there is a free 9-song download via iTunes (good through Sept 30th) using the following code to redeem the songs: 9EL3JJRW3JNF

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AACMWith an estimated 310 million people residing in the U.S., marketing to each person is the most arduous processes any company can undertake.  As a result, they slice and dice the population into sub-categories with facts, figures, and statistics which include demographics on ethnicity, age, gender, household characteristics, postal code data, purchasing influences along with many other attributes to develop a target market strategy.

Speaking of target markets… African Americans have a lot of influence on today’s culture and taste — and I’m talking beyond the role of hip-hop music and the issues of social responsibility vs. freedom of expression surrounding misogynistic words.  Harley-Davidson has recognized this influence and applied various perspectives on how the company will market to the African-American consumer.   Last April, H-D assigned John Comissiong to oversee the development of strategic marketing opportunities for the African American customer segment as the director of Market Outreach.

Mr. Comissiong is highly qualified and very well educated, holding multiple degrees including a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Cornell University, a Master of Science in engineering from Stony Brook University and a Master of Business Administration from Duke University.  In addition he is a licensed motorcycle rider and can be often seen on his Night Rod Special!!  In essence his job is to determine how H-D can obtain a disproportionate share of the $744 Billion in income which the 38.3 Million African-American consumers spend annually.  More specific, is the approximately $32B spent each year on Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles — how can H-D get more of those $$?!  It’s always about money.

Maurice Slaughter

Maurice Slaughter

This isn’t new behavior from corporate America.  For example, recently NBC News launched TheGrio.com, an African American ‘video-centric’ Web site devoted to stories and perspectives that appeal to the African American community.  Even the White House/Obama’s are expanding African American family definitions beyond Bill Cosby’s Huxtables with real-world examples and influence. 

So, what’s in it for H-D?  Today African American’s account for only 1.5% of new motorcycle sales. Even worse is that 7.9% of H-D’s total U.S. sales are to African Americans.  There are more less flattering stats.  Seven out of approximately 700 dealerships are owned by African American’s like Maurice Slaughter.  Few people of color sit on the company’s board or are members of the senior management and less than 10% of the employee base is African American.  H-D purchases approx $190M worth of material from minority-owned suppliers.   Representation of African American motorcycle clubs is fairly robust with: Buffalo Soldiers, Defiant Ones, Rare Breed, Magic Wheels, Soul Brothers and East Bay Dragons to name a few.

H-D has focused on the African American consumer market (AACM) with co-sponsorships at the NAACP Image Awards, the Atlantic or Urban Beach Bike Festival (referred to as Black Bike Week) and celebrating heritage “Bikers on the Boulevard” in Daytona.  They work with celeb’s and community leaders for opportunities to interact or obtain endorsements of H-D products in the African American community which in marketing terms is designed to create the perception that H-D understands African American needs and strengthens its credibility with that market segment.

I’ve been somewhat skeptical of H-D’s minority oriented efforts as sales and marketing issues are complex.  They do require creative actions and placing John Comissiong to maximize exposure and convey that H-D is relevant in the African American lifestyle and culture seems sincere and less of a stunt or a photo op.  Whether trend-setting celebs or average Joes, stimulating a dialogue between company representatives and motorcycle enthusiasts of ALL genre’s means H-D gets product feedback and company’s should never turn down a social opportunity with customers!

Photo courtesy Virginian-Pilot and Maurice Slaughter.

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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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cycle_movieOne thing I’ve noticed over the last year is the popularity of electronic devices targeted toward the geriatric-age bracket.

Now I’m all for helping out Grandma, but does she really need a Bluetooth diabetes monitor? Isn’t there enough on her plate with the upcoming digital channel transition and now we want to burden her with wireless medication, too!

And since we’re chatting about products and a subject I’m fond of — motorcycle “gizmo’s” — these days either mounted on or embedded in the dash is cruise control, GPS, XM Satellite, Alarms, remote starters, radar detectors, iPod music, intercom radio, video camera, CB radio, Bluetooth headsets and heated hand grips.  I’ve even seen a number of “pimptastic” motorcycles with a mini-home theater/video system!  It’s easy to imagine the future and the day of web-enabled motorcycles is just around the corner.   Being able to interact with the internet, get email or stream video content at the push of a button – all from your motorcycle dash.  It seems that all we’re missing is parking sonar!

In 2006 about 250M wireless phone subscribers in the US sent nearly 158 Billion text messages (Source: HERE).  I’m sure some of the those originated from a motorcycle.  And since 2001 the average age of motorcycle owners has increased from 40 to 47 (Source: JD Power).    So, if the average guy buying a motorcycle is getting older and if you follow the logic that implies age effects attentiveness and response times then a logical debate is older motorcycle drivers don’t need any more “bright and shiny” objects on the motorcycle to distract them, right?

Believe me when I say that I struggled to bite my tongue on this, but does anyone see these electronic devices as potential cause of accidents?  Motorcycle driver inattention due to text messaging seems obvious enough, but government legislation may not stop there.  What about those “entertainment” type devices that are behind or on the handlebars?  Many legislators believe that ANYTHING which can distract you from motorcycle driving is considered hazardous and they want to ban use and protect you…independent of reasonable people not engaging in such behavior.  And here you thought after market exhaust pipes with the EPA stamp was your biggest concern.

As the industry continues to struggle to attract and qualify younger first-time motorcycle buyers the future for “older” motorcyclists may be more about eating popcorn at garage parties and watching a movie.

Photo courtesy of Retro Thing.

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Black HarleyHow important do you think the color of a motorcycle is to Harley Davidson? Plenty! About 40% of shoppers say the will leave a showroom if they can’t find the color of their hearts desire, according to Harley research.

Have you notice lately how aggressive Harley has overhauled its color palette? Many of the new motorcycles feature new paint colors. Crimson Red Sunglo…a Red with more sparkle and more depth and punch to it. Suede Blue Pearl that is soooo ice Blue and Firecracker Red are other metallic paint colors being pushed out to the dealers.

The Harley process of developing these colors is cloaked in a lot of mystery and involves consulting dealers, designers, marketing and manufacturing. And, oh yeah they do try and listen to as many customers as possible.

These color efforts come a bit too late for my Vivid Black Road King, as I had had my fill of the sharp colors and bright paint finishes on previous bikes. Sure Black is boring, but it’s not ugly! As my inner fashion sensibility tells me…it might not be the most trendy, but it’s simple and simplistic designs will win out over fashion in the long run.

But not all bikers like Vivid Black or Black Denim or Flat Black. And that is good news for the Harley color teams who need a job and start by looking at the trends in fashion, product design and the economy…basically anything that may influence change so that they can forecast colors that potential buyers may be looking to straddle and ride in the wind.

For example, that blazing Copperhead color for the 105th Anniversary models was launched on all 2008 models and includes anniversary trim/badges. The color cuts across all models and is a high number for such a trendy color. I can’t help but think this is like that Bright Yellow. Very visible, very trendy, but just wasn’t a big seller. The blazing Copperhead was chosen for the 105th Anniversary models because Orange was going to be a trendy, noticeable color, based on Harley’s research in home and product design. It matched what Harley felt was the sporty, fun, vibrant nature of the brand they are working to relay. And though Silver, Smoke, Black have been popular, the Harley team believe a resurging economy along with “other” factors (read younger demographic) mean more people are going to tire of them.

I’m no color expert, but I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in all the research. I don’t think the bottom is going to drop out on Black, but all this talk of customers wanting fresher colors, more colorful reds, blues, greens and golds — something that is more obviously a color — seems to run counter to what I see on the road. I call these new colors “Buzz” colors. Because Harley want’s their motorcycles to appeal to the upscale boomer generation — like luxury brands at Mercury or Lexus — they assume customers want the same “unique” treatment on their motorcycles? It isn’t about exotic colors with names like Mirage Orange Pearl, Firecracker Red, Crimson Red Sunglo, Golden Glow, Purple Haze, Copperhead Pearl and Red Hot, and Suede Blue Pearl.

I’m still trendy as the new deep metallic Vivid Black will glisten like no other black before it! Why? Because they are using a new glass pigment instead of mica flakes. Sometimes remaking a color has a bit of a re-fresh look to it.

And you thought Black was Black and Blue Suede was for shoes!

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