Harley Davidson’s company was founded in 1903 in the United States. At this time, it was among the top a hundred motorcycle-producing firms in the US. The US government was among the most vital customers for the company as their motorcycles were high-powered, and reliable. This was also a major reason for using the motorcycles during both world wars. By 1960, Harley motorcycles dominated the US market. It was above its competitors and had 70% of the motorcycle market. Despite their market dominance, motorcycle growth was much slower as compared to the growth of motor cars. Later in 1964, Honda motorcycles came in and shook the market. Honda motorcycles were lighter and of good quality as compared to other motorcycles in the market. This made the Harley motorcycle sales drop to about 5%.
In 1969, American Machine and Foundry Company took over the management of Harley motorcycles. AMF increased the production off the motorcycles though they were of low quality. The Japanese motorcycles, which were of better quality, soon dominated the market making Harley motorcycles drop in its market share to 23%. Later in 1981, a group of managers bought back Harley Davidson from AMF. This group used new market strategies to raise the company. They believed in knowing the customers, the business and paying attention to details (Martha, 1993). They based their strategies in increasing the quality and improving service to customers. The introduction of quality motorcycles increased was a marked improvement in the company’s productivity. This enabled the company develop loyal customers who stood by the company even in bad times.
In 1991, Harley Davidson increased the product range with 20 models. At one point in time, he was making numerous sales that the supply could not meet the demand. Harley Davidson was no longer a product but a lifestyle. From t-shirts, coasters, floor mats and beer mugs to hats, shoes, jewellery, and frames, Harley-Davidson became one of the most recognized trademarks. The lifestyle served as a marketing tool for selling their products. They had a culture that provided the employees with a continued opportunity for growth and professional development. The belief of individuals being their long-term competitive advantage promoted the supply of products of high customer satisfaction. These products and services delighted the customers and offered value. The culture values also promote employee development, diversity and excellence in leadership.
To get more benefit in terms of marketing, Harley had to change their management structure. They developed a mechanism that involved listening to consumer desires and basing their production on quality not quantity. The leadership structure also altered. The leader was to have a vision and confidence to enhance change. They also increased the involvement of employees in quality goals so as communication between management and employees improve. Harley-Davidson made the right decision to expand conservatively as this improved its core business and ensured a lasting growth.
Further to that, the top management initiated several activities that promoted the sales. They participated in rallies, learned about the customer concerns and complaints. They then strived to find ways to change them. They learnt about the Japanese plants and Honda, as they were their competitors. They also educated the middle management and those on the front line on how reducing defect products, and increasing productivity, would turn the plant into a profit centre. They implemented product improvement through purchasing new engines and stereo systems. Lastly, they enhanced their presence in Europe. Harley opened a branch office for its HOG club in Frankfurt, Germany to cater for the European fans.
The image of Harley Davidson relates to its symbol. The symbol is an association of the American flag and the eagle. This reflects the passion and freedom Americans enjoy from their services. Harley promotes a mysterious manifestation, independence, a riding free feeling and the pride of owning a legend. In their products, Harley developed a strategy of pricing over value.
In conclusion, Harley Company has gone through a series of transformation. The comeback of the company was a great success. It is now the best choice of motorcycles as it embraces the current innovation. This is a revelation to many organizations. A firm can come back from difficulty. This is possible with leadership of high order and the company preserving its core business and strengthening its position. Companies should also ensure the uniqueness of their products to stand out in the market. The risks of conservative planning and aggressive planning need weighing.