Harley-Davidson: Evolution of Marketing Strategy

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTA014
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1997-2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Harley-Davidson
Industry : Motorcycle Industry
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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No one can accurately predict the future. What I can predict with the utmost confidence are the things that won't change at Harley-Davidson - namely, our commitment to providing more great motorcycles; to enhancing the unparalleled Harley lifestyle experience; and to continuing to provide excellent financial performance.

- Jeffrey L. Bleustein, Harley-Davidson CEO1


August 31, 2003 marked Harley-Davidson's (H-D) 100th anniversary. H-D was one of the leading motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Forbes Magazine had named H-D as the Company of the Year2 in 2001 for its record sales growth and earnings, and strong overall financial performance. The year 2002 marked the 17th consecutive year of record revenue and net income for H-D. US consumers often waited as long as six to eighteen months to purchase a new H-D bike. In addition to its line of motorcycles marketed under the H-D and Buell3 brand names, the company also offered a complete line of aftermarket parts, accessories and general merchandise.

Background Note

Founded in 1903, H-D was the only major American player in the global motorcycle market. It had served in every major war of the past 100 years and received four Navy 'E' awards4 for excellence in wartime production. It was the war veterans who started the H-D biker culture. Veterans returned home from war and bought H-D because they had fallen in love with the bike and the company when they were at war. They started riding H-D with strong American pride.

Harley-Davidson: Evolution of Marketing Strategy - Next Page>>

1] "Organizational Innovations in Harley Davidson Inc. – Transformation by Interactive stakeholder relationships," Working paper, Helsinki University of Technology, 2001.
2] Forbes Magazine, one of the world's leading business publications. The honor and accompanying article entitled 'Love Into Money' appeared in the 7th January 2002 edition of the magazine.
3] In 1993, H-D purchased a 49% stake in Buell Motorcycle Company to gain access to the performance motorcycle category and provided consumers with a lower cost entry point. In 1998, the company acquired the remaining Buell stock and began to consolidate operating results.
4] Navy 'E' award was put into effect by the Navy Bureau of Ordnance on July 1941as a recognition to push forward more swiftly with production of defense materials to arm Navy in all eventualities.


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