Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

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Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company logo

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. The well-known credo of the United States Marine Corp. and a fitting statement for anyone looking to survive in all walks of life, including business.

With sales of Harley Davidson motorcycles dropping as fast as the temperatures in the northeast, Harley Davidson continues adapting to an ever-changing marketplace in order to survive.

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With the realization that Baby Boomers are disappearing and not returning to the marketplace, Harley Davidson, like other motorcycle manufacturers such as Honda Powersports and Triumph Motorcycles, has created a new lineup of motorcycles to appeal to millennials. But, Harley continues to take steps to attract new buyers, especially with the Motorcycle Industry Council estimating that only ten percent of riders are between the ages of 30 to 34, but 46% of the riders are over the age of 50.

A slow economic recovery is in part to blame, which I would agree with, but I was also add the ever growing mountain of debt millennials face with student loans. As an attorney practicing bankruptcy law for more than 19 years, it should be noted that students loans are rarely, if ever dischargeable in a bankruptcy. You can also add to that the list of distractions the younger generations have, whether online gaming/streaming, and social media.

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Recently I blogged about Robert Pandya, a former executive for Indian Motorcycles and Victory Motorcycles. Pandya recently launched “Give A Shift,” a volunteer group discussing ideas to promote motorcycling and to prevent the continual decline of the sport. One of the conclusions based on rountable discussions, was focusing on women riders.

Per the Motorcycle Industry Council, women makeup 14 % of the riding population. New campaign strategies focus on women and male dominated events such as the X-Games and UFC, which is also popular with younger viewers.

Part of Harley Davidson’s strategy is The Harley Riding Academy which has expanded to 245 dealerships nationwide and provides either a three or four day motorcycle riding course. Harley Davidson also has plans to introduce 100 new motorcycles over the next decade, all geared towards younger riders and women.

This year, Harley Davidson Motorcycles sold 124,777 through the first nine months of 2017 as compared to 2016 when 135,581 motorcycles were sold.

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On a personal note, every business should come to the realization that millennials are the next generation of baby boomers and they will affect every facet of life for decades to come. Even my own profession, the practice of law, has changed drastically. If you don’t adjust, roll with the changes, you will be left behind.
MC Atty
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