Broadening our customer base through product development
Harley-Davidson Street™ 750 made its international debut at retail in 2014. Launching in the U.S., Spain, Portugal, Italy, and India, Street has continued to add to our community of riders by introducing the growing urban market to a bike that’s unmistakably Harley-Davidson®. As the global trend of urbanization continues to rise, so does the need for a bike that meets the challenges of city riding.
“Years before Street launched, we spoke with riders in various urban environments all over the world,” said Frank Savage, Harley-Davidson Styling Manager. “We wanted to understand how they viewed Harley-Davidson, how they saw themselves in the riding world, and how we could meet them on their terms.”
The feedback was resounding. These riders wanted an authentic, rugged and durable bike that could meet the stop-and-go challenges of urban riding. They wanted a Dark Custom™ soul with a rebellious spirit that combined a contemporary look with the heritage of Harley-Davidson. The Street went there and beyond.
Riders have responded to our customer-led approach with acclaim. In fact, Street 750 was recently named the 2015 India Motorcycle of the Year, and in the U.S., retail sales of Street drove double-digit gains in Harley-Davidson's small cruisers in the third and fourth quarters of 2014. In select markets around the world, riders have attended events such as India Bike Week and Barcelona Harley Days® to show their support for the bike.
India Bike Week
Since our market entry in 2009, the leisure motorcycle market in India has seen substantial growth. Our India team has worked to blend the lifestyle of Harley-Davidson with the country’s rich social culture. In recent years, the assembly of Sportster®, Dyna®, and Softail® model families at our plant in India increased interest in and accessibility to our brand and motorcycles. This enthusiasm continued to boom with the introduction of the Harley-Davidson Street 750 at the second annual India Bike Week in Goa in 2014.
“We saw thousands of motorcycling enthusiasts from around the country come to India Bike Week last year, many of whom came to see the new Street.”
Anoop Prakash, Harley-Davidson India Managing Director
“We saw thousands of motorcycling enthusiasts from around the country come to India Bike Week last year, many of whom came to see the new Street,” said Anoop Prakash, Harley-Davidson India Managing Director. “Ten months later, we had a robust demand for our new Street motorcycles, bringing a new generation of riders to the brand. Street allows young urban riders a more affordable option to be part of the Harley-Davidson lifestyle sooner than they would be able to with other models.”
Following the launch of Street 750 in select European markets, dealers and riders immediately recognized the bike’s potential for customization. So, we launched the Custom Kings program, a campaign designed to showcase the performance of Street and our dealers’ strengths in the customization space.
“The Street allows young urban riders a more affordable option to be part of the Harley-Davidson lifestyle sooner than they would be able to with other models.”
Anoop Prakash, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson India
With a strict budget and using only Harley-Davidson Genuine Parts & Accessories, dealers were encouraged to put their unique stamp on Street. Our dealers accepted the challenge.
“We were blown away by the amount of passion and creativity our dealers poured into the Custom Kings campaign,” said Mike Johnstone, Harley-Davidson Regional Marketing Operations Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “It’s a testament to their individualization and speaks volumes about the global potential of Street.”
Skateboards and Motorcycles
Looking to unveil Street 750 to great fanfare in Spain and Portugal, we took a unique approach to draw our target audience to Barcelona Harley Days. Weeks before the event, a skateboard competition was organized across the nation, with the finals scheduled to take place at the urban festival.
“We were blown away by the amount of passion and creativity our dealers poured into the Custom Kings campaign.”
Mike Johnstone, Harley-Davidson Regional Marketing Operations Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“We learned a great deal from previous Street launches, including the type of customer we wanted to attract,” said Olivier Allamagny, Harley-Davidson Regional Country Manager for Italy, Spain and Portugal. “So, we wanted to take a unique approach to drawing those current and future urban riders to Harley Days.”
The plan paid off. Not only did our target audience turn out in great numbers for the unveiling, but once again we proved our ability to reach new and existing riders in new and exciting ways.
Being customer-led doesn’t just mean listening to the average rider; it means considering customers of all sizes and riding needs. Nothing captures that drive for customer satisfaction more than our new 2015 Project RUSHMORE Touring models: Electra Glide® Ultra Classic® Low, Ultra Limited Low and Freewheeler™.
Driven by the voices of our customers, we aggregated feedback from riders across the globe. One message echoed loud and clear: shorter-stature riders were concerned about being able to comfortably ride a Touring bike with confidence, given the bike's larger scale.
So, we didn’t just set out to adjust the seat height. We rethought the entire bike to fit customers’ individual proportions and create a more enjoyable ride. New handlebars sit closer to the rider for increased control, narrow hand grips make the clutch and front brake levers easier to reach, and a lowered front and rear suspension lowers the motorcycle by a full inch to put the rider closer to the ground. With the new Low models in the Touring lineup, we’re now able to offer a complete set of bikes to fit a wider range of customers—and most are accessible straight off the showroom floor. No more waiting for the seat and suspension to be adjusted. These bikes are ready to ride—making for an even greater retail experience.
“The fact that more riders can comfortably ride a big Touring bike is exciting,” said Rebecca Krueger, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Product Planning Manager. “It not only increases their confidence, but also extends their ability to ride longer. So, we’ve created opportunities for riders who haven’t experienced our Touring line, while improving the ride for customers who have.”
With its confidence-inspiring fit and easier steering, Freewheeler delivers a hotrod style to customers looking for a custom profile in a Trike. It’s built for riders of any size. The handlebars are pulled back to offer increased control. The rear section is pulled forward to reduce the overall length. The 'batwing' fairing in the front is removed for a lighter feel.
“We’re turning an idea into an emotional bond,” said Krueger. “Riders who used to say ‘I wish I could’ are now saying ‘I gotta have it.’ We’re reshaping conceptions of what it’s like to ride a Trike.”
“We're turning an idea into an emotional bond. Riders who used to say, 'I wish I could' are now saying 'I gotta have it.'”
Rebecca Krueger, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Product Planning Manager
With our customer-led approach to Project RUSHMORE and the Street 750 and Street 500, we proved just how capable our people and product development processes are. While customer response continues to be positive, we’re not in the business of sitting still. It’s that drive for innovation that inspired our next milestone: Project LiveWire™—the first Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle.
With Project LiveWire, we’ve gone out earlier in the product development process than ever before. Last summer, a fleet of hand-built motorcycles left the Willie G. Davidson Product Development Center in Wauwatosa, Wis. and went on a full-scale U.S. tour to gather feedback from our riders. It’s the same customer-led mindset that stems from the rebel roots of our company.
“The purpose of the tour is to get feedback straight from customers on what they expect from a Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle.”
Jina Amaro, Harley-Davidson Integrated Marketing Communication Director
“The purpose of the tour is to get feedback straight from customers on what they expect from a Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle,” said Jina Amaro, Harley-Davidson Integrated Marketing Communication Director. “So far, the response from test riders has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Project LiveWire is a great example of how we weave technology into art. Its overall proportions, including the compact, aggressive rake angle and short tail section, evoke the classic Harley-Davidson racing profile—a key inspiration for its design. Lighting and instrumentation lend to its futuristic look, and the bike incorporates the high-quality metal finishes and coatings Harley-Davidson riders have come to expect.
Make no mistake, the Harley-Davidson V-Twin engine is still the flagship of the company and continues to have a strong future in our product lineup. We’re taking a leadership position in bringing Project LiveWire to the street to gain insight into rider expectations. If and when a Harley-Davidson electric bike comes to market, it has to look, sound and feel like an authentic Harley-Davidson motorcycle—even if expressed in a new way. That’s why the Project LiveWire Experience Tour is extending internationally in 2015 to gather additional input from customers in Canada and markets across Europe and Asia-Pacific.
“This is new for Harley-Davidson,” said Amaro. “To be truly customer-led, we want a deep understanding into what our customers are looking for and get it right for them the first time.”