Recently I was reading an editorial in the business section of the local newspaper which had been prepared by a financial executive at Harley Davidson Motor Co.
Until next month,
In the article the author stated that HD motorcycle sales were down by slightly more than 10 percent over the same period two years ago. The article went on to explain why he felt sales were off, and what the motor company planned to do about it.
You would have thought the article had been written by an executive in the hobby industry. I’ve heard the same arguments over and over, along with the same solutions. The problem is the arguments are being prepared by those people who remember the glory days of the industry, and the solutions are being presented by people with the same mindset. It should be quite obvious, especially to those who keep charts and graphs that goals are not being met, and the obvious solution should then be if goals are not being met an alternative plan is needed to bring people into our world. In other words, don’t keep beating the same dead horse expecting different results. It doesn’t quite work that way.
A simple observation will reveal to most people that we can toss two generations in the garbage. Just discard these people as unobtainable and quit wasting your time and energy trying to draw them in. Dealers used to make fun of what we called “yuppies.” These people were so wrapped up in what they felt was the path to a happy and successful life that everything else, including family values, was put to the side. The second generation is what we are currently dealing with at all levels, not just in the hobby industry. Because mom and dad worked beyond reason to satisfy a false sense of accomplishment, they raised an entire generation that has done absolutely nothing for themselves, nor do they care to. Throughout their entire lives the wants and needs of this generation weren’t earned through menial minimum wage afterschool jobs, forcing the individual to begin making decisions on what to do with the hard earned cash, but through the use of mom and dad’s bank account.
I’m really dating myself with this next, but one of the most successful ad campaigns in history took place during the second half of the 1960s. You meet the nicest people on a Honda exposed America to small lightweight and inexpensive motorcycles. Fathers realized they needn’t worry about their daughters being raped by drunken leather clad stereotypes that were the cinema norm at the time. In the ads smiling teenagers wearing tennis outfits and white sneakers were riding around laughing and having fun. The campaign was so successful it convinced many parents, including mine, to let their children have a motorcycle.
Today an entry level Harley Davidson motorcycle costs roughly $15,000. My fist Honda was less than $300. Even accounting for inflation the Honda was still only a fraction of the cost of the Harley, but it got my toe in the door, fueling what has since been a life-long passion. And this is the point. To get people involved the first thing manufacturers have to offer are high-quality products that are friendly and a person can afford, then make sure those same products come with the challenge necessary to keep the person interested. As just one example, arts and crafts are a great way for people to start in hobbies. In years past the craft industry and hobby industry were combined, but times change, yet those dealers that offer crafts—and classes on turning craft products into a finished accessories—are doing rather well. Crafts are inexpensive yet completely satisfying. Starting people small and moving them forward into more complicated goals is but one way to grow a solid customer base.