Harley-Davidson is extending its marketing reach to the female motorcycle enthusiast. It makes sense for Harley from a revenue-generating perspective and I love to see companies that have traditionally marketed to men expand their scope and validate the female consumer.
I wonder, though, if Harley-Davidson is experiencing any disconnect between the new female-friendly corporate culture and the traditional male-dominated environment present in their stores. An article I read addressed this, though it only mentioned “dealerships”, not Harley-Davidson dealerships specifically. President of the Milwaukee-area “Stilettos on Steel “ motorcycle club for female bikers, Anne Zube feels that “she and other women motorcyclists aren’t always welcomed or understood in a male-dominated activity where even the dealerships sometimes ignore them or don’t take them seriously” (Barrett, 2013). A former Harley-Davidson executive, Leslie Prevish, commented, “Companies can spend millions of dollars marketing products to women, but it’s wasted money if the people dealing directly with customers don’t follow through and treat women with the same respect as men” (Barrett, 2013). Concentrated marketing will only work for Harley if the front of the house supports the brand vision that Harley-Davidson corporate has for the company. If the company is positioning by product user, then employee training about how to treat the (female) user is essential. Employee training must be happening to a degree, otherwise the sales figures wouldn’t be what they are and there would be low (or no) attendance to garage parties. Harley has high brand equity; perhaps women want the product enough and don’t mind dealing with a male-centric dealership.
Barrett, R. (2013, August 28). In quest to expand market, Harley-Davison reaches out to women. Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved from http://www.jsonline.com/business/in-quest-to-expand-market-harley-davidson-reaches-out-to-women-b9984573z1-221524671.html