Harley-Davidson looks to target young riders

Harley-Davidson.svgThe average of a Harley-Davidson rider is 48 years old. The company, which is associated with the counterculture movement, is aggressively looking to inspire this revolution again within the younger generation.

Matt Levatich, the new chief executive of Harley-Davidson, is spending much of his time looking for ways to get young people onto the seat of a bike. His focus is to expand their offerings to include more lower-priced bike designs for urban riding. three-wheeled models, lower-slung two-wheelers that are easier to mount, and eventually a battery-powered alternative to the classic Harley.

While Levatich appreciates and understands the importance of the virtual world that many young people are living in, his mission is to inspire young adults to live for real. And the open road is certainly an amazing place to experience the world. Levatich is confident that another counterculture will take place, similar to the one in the 1960s. Harley-Davidson wants to be prepared to provide the younger generation with a product that will help fuel and serve as an outlet for this movement.

Moving forward, Harley-Davidson will be more discriminating when deciding which of its models to favor with investments, whether it’s in new engines or other updates. Levatich is placing priority on appealing to younger adults, women and minorities. While Harley-Davidson will continue to target their core audience – older white men – we will likely see bikes that exclusively appeal to this audience slowly fade away.

Mr. Levatich, is a seasoned veteran with Harley-Davidson with 21 years experience with the company. He took over on May 1, after a dismal first quarter performance. He contends that the baby boomer generation will remain the big customers for many years to come, however, long term company success will depend on bringing in new blood.

As Levatich puts it, “the most important segment is young adults – the incoming. Are teenagers choosing to join the sport?”

Spring Rallies

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This weekend marks the beginning of the 2015 Texas State Harley Owners Group Rally, which is being held this year in Tyler, TX. It’s one of the biggest HOG rallies in the country, with thousands of riders (more than 3,000 are expected this year) congregating and participating in the parade. Generally speaking, East Texas is one of the best places for an event like this to take place because of its scenic beauty and relatively open roads.

Events like this aren’t just a lot of fun for people who own Harleys and motorcycle enthusiasts in general, they are great boons for the economies of the cities in which they take place. For example, many in Tyler hope and predict that about $2.5 million could be pumped into their economy from the influx of cash that is expected to be spent at local restaurants, hotels, and businesses.

At this time of year when the weather starts to get exceptionally nice, rallies begin to be held all around the country. The Harley Davidson Cruising the Coast spring rally is one such event which takes place in the Myrtle beach area, and there are countless others. There are similar economic expectations wherever they take place, generally with restaurants and hotels as the biggest beneficiaries.

Harley-Davidson and the USO

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Motorcycle enthusiasm and philanthropy are more related than most people probably realize. An excellent event that combines these, the 9/11 Ride, is mentioned on the front page of this website. There was another story this week that further showcases this relationship.

Gateway Harley-Davidson in St. Louis, Missouri has been part of an 11 year campaign to raise money for the USO of Missouri, and this year raised $20,000. They hope to more than double that amount this year with a goal of $50,000. Over the 11 year period, they have helped raise over $125,000.

Having participated in giving back to active military personnel and veterans for over a decade, Gateway Harley-Davidson is not only committed to the longevity of such a campaign, but also to the constant work and support. Their commitment isn’t shown at just one or two events each year, but regularly. In 2014, for example, events were held monthly at the Gateway dealership, and included a bike show, bike wash, and a memorial ride, among others.

The above article summarizes the mission of Gateway Harley-Davidson, and what they invite those in the surrounding community to join them in, as follows: “Be a part of giving back to those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We believe your support is the catalyst for the inspiration of others to give back and to teach future generations that with freedom there comes sacrifice and with sacrifice there must always be the contributors of gratitude and respect.”