Marketing Strategies of Harley-Davidson

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG174
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 1995-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Harley-Davidson
Industry : Automobile - Motorcycle
Countries : US

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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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Introduction Contd...

However, despite the success that H-D had achieved over the decades, it came in for quite a bit of criticism from analysts. Some critics were of the opinion that H-D was moving from its core competency, i.e. motorcycles, and diluting its brand image. They also criticized H-D dealers, saying they still had a long way to go in maintaining good relationships with the company's customers.

Background Note

In 1903, H-D was established by William S. Harley (William) and Arthur Davidson (Arthur) at Milwaukee in the US. William, who was born in Milwaukee on December 29, 1880, started working in a bicycle factory at the age of 15.

Arthur, who was William's childhood friend, also started working at a young age. Both of them were mechanically inclined. They manufactured their first motorcycle in a 10x15 feet wooden shed with a hand-written sign on the door that read, 'Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company'. The first product launched was a racer bike. The company's operations expanded rapidly and the two were later joined by Arthur's brother Walter.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

In 1906, H-D started a new 28x80 feet factory at Chestnut Street, which later came to be known as Juneau Avenue. By then, the company's employee strength had increased to six full-time employees. In the same year, the company also produced its first motorcycle catalog.

On September 17, 1907, the name 'Harley-Davidson Motor Company' was incorporated.7

In 1908, H-D sold the first motorcycle for police duty to the Detroit Police Department in Michigan in the US. The V-twin powered motorcycle was introduced by the company in 1909 and for the first time, the company also started selling motorcycle spare parts. The V-twin powered motorcycle was the fastest motorcycle during those times and could travel at a speed of 60 miles per hour. The popular 'Bar & Shield' logo was used for the first time in 1910 (Refer to Exhibit I for a picture of this logo). It was trademarked at the US Patent office after a year.

At the time of the First World War in 1917, there was an increased demand for American motorcycles overseas...

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