Posts Tagged ‘Trade In Value’

SportsterI called it – sort of!  I questioned Harley-Davidson’s marketing tactics HERE and HERE in rolling out a guaranteed trade-in value program on its Sportster model.

I disagreed because I just didn’t see the value prop or customer pull this program offered in these difficult economic times.   Especially when you compare it to other “protection” programs (Hyundai) which garnered the public’s attention span and given the massive layoffs across the country.  I did miss the uptick of non-buying people the program brought into the dealer, however.  But, the end result is that people are not going to go for a less-expensive Harley-Davidson model just because it has a guaranteed trade-in value when what they really want to ride is a Street Glide, FatBoy or Trike.  Buy a Sportster because it’s cheaper, ride it for a year and then trade-up, huh?  There were NO provisions for incremental custom modifications or enhancements and I don’t know about you, but I rarely see a bone stock Harley.  This was innovation at it’s worse — a re-do of an ‘80s program and then 6 months after the initial roll-out the marketing department rereleased it again with date changes… sort of a Hollywood sequel mentality… Sportster: Part Deux!

Genius_BarSure I’m being a bit harsh, but it wasn’t a big surprised to read in The Business Journal that Keith Wandell, President and CEO, “threw marketing under the bus”… saying the company mistakenly thought the recession would push consumers toward Harley’s Sportster and other less expensive motorcycles. It also turns out that Harley management stepped up the Sportster production line even though retail sales didn’t materialize.  Now dealers have a glut and plant slow downs are the theme of the day.

Motorcycle enthusiasts will rarely purchase a model they don’t want just because of a discount.  Would it have made a difference had Mr. Wandell come to the CEO position with leathers and at least one motorcycle in his garage prior to re-approving the Sportster program?  I suspect yes, but we’ll never know.  At any rate, this is a fairly significant miscalculation and the pool of talent seems to be limited to people who are used to thinking alike and are doing things the same way.  It’s time to shake things up and catch people’s attention.  My suggestion is to make the Harley buying experience less like going to the DMV and more like going to the Apple “Genius Bar!”

Photo courtesy H-D and Flickr.

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