Harley-Davidson Motor Company has made reached great lengths in defining themselves not only by their trademark bikes, but by the lifestyle associated with the brand. Even further, the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G) is a division that was formed to add value to the Harley-Davidson Brand and help management get a floor-level view of their consumers. The H.O.G helps consumers engage and become more active in the community that surrounds Harley-Davidson. The individuals vary in their backgrounds, but they all share the common interest in their love for their motorcycles and riding. The following is an analysis of what H.O.G is doing well, not so well, and aspects of marketing that the division should focus on in the future.
Perceived Brand-Performance Fit
The idea of perceived brand-performance fit comes down to the base level reasoning that consumers use when buying products. To expand, consumers buy products to fill a void or, in other words, to satisfy a specific need or want. When selecting a product to buy, the consumer will typically take into account factors of quality in comparison to similar products. Finally, after the product is used, the consumer will have a level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction depending on how the product performed. Harley-Davidson is subject to the factors of perceived brand-performance fit and typically executes their business well in this category.
The most notable reason, or need, that people buy a Harley is not for transportation or the experience of the ride, but to fill the need for affiliation. Brad Fountain looks forward to the “camaraderie” of riding stating, “Riding by yourself, it’s a long road, but when you’re riding with a group it’s more of a nice atmosphere, like you’re all buddies so to speak” (Fournier, 9). This shows that when Harley riders go on rides together, they feel like they are part of something larger than themselves. As defined in What Customers Want by Dr. Solomon, the need for affiliation is “relevant to products and services for people in groups... it serves to alleviate loneliness” (Solomon, 35). This shows that the need for affiliation is a driver in the consumer’s choice to pick Harley-Davidson over its competitors.
The brand Harley-Davidson is also a driver in consumer decision as the name alone has an image and quality that it portrays. The fact that Harley-Davidson is an American-made product gives off the portrayal of a well-made, quality motorcycle. This relates to the heuristic, country of origin, which is a mental rule of thumb used to make an assumption relating to quality of a product (Solomon, 112). The price-quality heuristic is also relevant because Harley motorcycles are more expensive than their competitors, giving the portrayal of a better product. Harley-Davidson is effective of marketing their motorcycles as a forerunner in terms of quality, by promoting the country of origin and price-quality heuristics.
Finally, Harley-Davidson knows that they must offer not only a product, but an experience that will leave their consumers satisfied. Harley-Davidson has provided data that shows that consumers are typically very satisfied with their product experience and the H.O.G division of the company. This satisfaction can be reassured by consumers ranking their membership in H.O.G at a 3.7 out of 4, despite renewal rates being a moderate 75% (Fournier, 2). Harley-Davidson’s pre-ride survey indicates that people are very satisfied with their bikes, when asked, “If I were to replace my bike, I’d buy another Harley,” results came to a mean of 6.4 out of 7 (Fournier 34). This indicates that riders are extremely satisfied with the product that Harley-Davidson is offering and will buy from them again, given the opportunity.
Social and Emotional Identification
Social and Emotional Identification is related to the psychological interpretation that a consumer has towards a brand. Social self-concept is related to