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Brands & Branding and Private Labels Case Study

Case Title:

Harley Davidson: Maintaining a Cult Brand

Publication Year : 2007

Authors: Mridu Verma

Industry: Automobiles


Case Code: BBP0077P

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Available

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In 2005, the $5.34 billion—Harley-Davidson (Harley) is the leading motorcycle manufacturer in the US with over 50% market share. Hailed as the classic example of a cult brand, Harley depends on innovative product, premium pricing, unique retail environment and experiential and relationship marketing to maintain its status as a cult brand. It enjoys huge brand loyalty. Deeply connected to American culture and values, Harley has become a symbol of rugged individualism, freedom and rebellion. Harley has cultivated its image and relationships over a long period of time and effectively wrapped itself around its customers using multiple marketing techniques. Every touch point--the product itself, its distribution channels, sales, customer service, design, communications and brand extensions has been harnessed to enhance the company’s brand identity. Harley has historically controlled the demand - supply gap of its products to create a scarcity value for the brand

With the changing demographic and market scenario, Harley is slowly changing its strategy on all fronts. In 2005, all the eyes are trained on Harley as it made the transition from operating in the unique, high growth selling environment that it experienced in the 1990s and early 2000s, to one that is sustainable on an ongoing basis. In the recent times, the scarcity value has reduced as a result of its aggressive strategy to match demand and supply. Although the company’s efforts to correct the demand - supply gap are going in the right direction, they are also leading to rising dealer inventory and reduced value of pre-owned vehicles.

The case discusses Harley’s product development strategy, brand merchandising, pricing, its promotion strategy, the Harley Owner Group (HOG) and its designer stores which promote lifestyle experience.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • The emergence of Harley Davidson as a cult brand
  • The challenges that Harley Davidson faced from competitors, over the years
  • To discuss the strategies adopted by Harley to maintain its status as a cult brand.

Keywords : Harley Davidson, cukt brand, innovativeproduct, premium pricing, relationship marketing, brand loyalty, lifestyle branding, icinic brand, experiential marketing, product scarcity model, Brands & Branding Case Study, brand merchandising, retail strategy, brand identity, historical branding, image management

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