Imagine a situation where a historic small town with more than 500 ancient monuments gets invaded by 240 roaring bikers sharing a unique camaraderie and brotherhood. It becomes a place where these enthusiasts celebrate and sway to various music performances. Welcome to the Harley mania.
The iconic US cult bike maker rides on the shoulders of community engagement and experiential marketing with no focus on TV to drive home the message. The company has adopted an interesting and unique approach to create a culture on wheels that includes riding events, boot camps and legendary brand associations with rock music and films such as Harley Rock Riders and the Harley Freedom Film Festival. Founded in 1903, Harley- Davidson commenced its India operations in August 2009. While, the premium bike market in India is at a nascent stage, the opportunity for this segment is quite high, given the strong growth in purchasing power of the middle-class, especially in the age group of 20-30 years. A large section of the demand comes from Delhi and Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, owing to the rich biking culture.
To pioneer the development of true leisure riding culture among biking enthusiasts, Harley Owners Group (H.O.G) with a membership of 1.3 million Harley-Davidson owners in over 120 countries, have started gaining momentum in India as well. The brand wants to drive community engagement by formalising of H.O.G across its several dealership cities to enable riders to further express their individuality. Local H.O.G rides are conducted at regular intervals for customers to meet, ride and experience adventure, self-expression and freedom of open roads.
In order to provide an opportunity and exposure for biking enthusiasts to touch, feel and experience the Harley-Davidson spirit and culture, the brand has adopted the experiential marketing approach. Boot Camp is a brand introduction event, where prospective customers can come and learn about the history, heritage and lifestyle of Harley-Davidson. They get a first hand brand experience and opportunities to test ride the HD bikes.
The historic association of Harley-Davidson with rock music and its legends gave birth to the annual music property – Harley Rock Riders in India in 2010 to bring together motorcycling and music. The music and motorbike enthusiasts in Bangalore recently came together to celebrate the performances and the brand unveiled its latest model, the ‘Fat Bob’. Harley-Davidson Boot Camp was present at the event to cater to existing and potential customers to come and experience the Harley-Davidson bikes first hand, feel them, ride them and order them at their will.
Harley’s inclination in India has not been towards hard-core advertising on TV. It advertises in print through some of the niche magazines and newspapers. Community engagement and experiential marketing is the most preferred medium of the brand. It has tried to redefine the culture of leisure biking in India by bringing together like-minded enthusiasts to translate into a wider reach, which further helps in increasing sales. The brand has a unique and differentiated approach towards advertising and creating awareness which makes us say – It’s the Harley Way!