Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Why is Harley Davidson Struggling?

Why is Harley Davidson Struggling?

Harley Davidson always came out victorious whenever faced with a crisis in the past thanks to its loyal fan base all over the world. It is one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers and has remained on top for a long time, especially in the U.S. Harley motorcycles are popular among motorcycle enthusiasts due to their traditional looks, premium fits, and high-quality finishes. However, the past few years have not been so kind to Harley Davidson as it failed to achieve its sales targets. The company has had to shut down several global manufacturing plants due to not having the finances to maintain them. There are several reasons why Harley Davidson is struggling and less hope that the company will be able to regain its momentum and become a giant motorcycle manufacturer again. Read this article to learn why Harley Davidson is struggling to continue to maintain its dominance in the motorcycle market.


1. Declining Sales and Brand Value

Harley Davidson’s revenue has been steadily falling since 2016. However, the year 2020 was the worst in terms of revenue due to COVID-19. The sales declined by 17.4% between 2019-2020. Due to the constant fall in retail sales, Harley Davidson has not been able to formulate a new action plan to avoid sudden declines in sales. Latin America, which is considered to be the sales hub, observed a retail sales decline of 38% within a year.

Despite the recent developments, Harley Davidson still remains the top seller in the U.S. with a total sales percentage of around 30%. Right behind it is Honda with a total market share of 21.4% in the U.S. However, the U.S. has the 11th biggest motorcycle market in the world. Currently, the world’s largest motorcycle market is in India, where Harley Davidson has had to shut down its operation. The Interbrand has also ranked Harley Davidson at 99th place on the best global brands list, dropping below its previous spot at 73rd place.

2. Niche Fan Base

According to statistics shared by the Bureau of Transportation, the average age of a motorcycle owner was 27 years old when Harley-Davidson started its operation in 1985. However, as of today, the average age of a Harley rider is typically around 50 years old, showing a lack of interest from young riders. Harley Davidson’s current marketing strategies appeal to older customers but have not been attracting many new and young riders.

3. Lack of Innovation

Harley Davidson has not made many strides in research and innovation. The world of motorcycling is continuously evolving, with modern motorcycles being luxurious, safer, advanced, and more fun due to being fitted with the latest technology. The riding experience has been transformed with the inclusion of new features and riding aids in modern motorcycles. Meanwhile, Harley Davidson has continued to stick with their old and bulky models without improving much in their design for the past few years. While most major motorcycle manufacturers regularly upgrade their motorcycles every year, Harley Davidson has been slow to make major changes in their lineups, except for the color, fitment, and finish.

There are only a few Harley motorcycles equipped with modern features. Most Harley motorcycles include ABS and cruise control as optional features which riders have to pay an additional amount to have installed on their motorbikes.

Despite introducing electric motorcycles in 2019 under a separate brand name, LiveWire, the company did not gain much recognition due to excessively high prices. However, the company has recently decided to lower the prices of electric motorcycles in the U.S. to increase its sales. With the reduced prices, you can now buy the LiveWire S2 Del Mar for $15,499 and the LiveWire One for $22,799.

4. Expensive Prices

Harley Davidson is one of the most expensive motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Buying a new Harley Davidson motorcycle has become difficult for many riders due to their base prices have become too high for individuals working with a tight budget. A new Japanese motorcycle can cost the same as a used Harley motorcycle. Harley Davidson must learn from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki on how to ensure reliability while keeping the price lower. Harley Davidson aftermarket parts are also expensive, making it difficult to customize your motorcycle.

5. Difficulty Attracting Young Riders

Harley Davidson has a loyal fan base who prefer riding only Harley Davidson motorcycles. Old and experienced riders are still captivated by the looks and performance of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Their bulky appearances, chrome parts, and traditional styling are the major selling points of Harley Davidson motorcycles. However, the company does not have any motorcycles with features or designs that suit the needs of young and new riders. Many young riders are not willing to pay for classic motorcycles that cannot compete with modern and futuristic motorcycles. Young riders are more attracted to motorcycles with innovative designs, lightweight builds, sporty looks, performance-enhancing features, and quick acceleration and throttle response.

6. Difficulty Expanding Internationally

Due to poor sales and less income, Harley Davidson has failed to make a name for itself internationally. Harley Davidson’s global expansion program has made little progress in recent years. The company had to pack up from several countries.

7. Difficulty Keeping Up With Competitors

Harley Davidson has been having trouble keeping up with the latest market trends their competitors have already incorporated. Harley Davidson’s competitors expanded their operations and utilized other manufacturing methods. They have taken advantage of every opportunity to grow and stabilize their sales and brand image. In the meantime, they have also focused on investing more in research. Meanwhile, Harley Davidson has not kept up with their customer’s needs and has taken too long to make changes, upgrade their motorcycles, and innovate its manufacturing processes.

8. Lack of Diversity

While most notable motorcycle manufacturers around the world are focused on increasing their fan bases and adopting the latest trends, Harley Davidson plans to cater to their current fan base. Harley Davidson is primarily focused on continuing to produce cruisers and touring bikes.

Cruisers and touring bikes are the most expensive types of motorcycles due to having bulkier parts and larger engines. Harley Davidson has not made any indication that it plans to design and manufacture any sports bikes, dirt bikes, or naked bikes.

9. Less Durable & Difficult to Maintain

Despite being an expensive motorcycle brand, Harley Davidson does not produce many durable models. While Harley Davidson motorcycles have the best paint jobs and finishes, their mechanical and electrical parts can be easily damaged and suffer breakdowns.

Apart from being less durable, it is also more expensive to maintain a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The individual parts are expensive, making it difficult to get replacements or repair a Harley motorbike. Harley motorcycles also require more maintenance than motorcycles from other notable brands.


10. Lacks Adaptive Marketing

Big companies usually rely on customer feedback and market research to help plan their marketing and production strategies. Harley has had difficulty sustaining their brand name due to a lack of adaptive marketing. Closely observing trends and customer needs can help you adjust your advertising and modify your products to ensure they appeal to a larger audience. Harley Davidson currently would benefit most by focusing attention on the motorcycles in high demand in the local market.

11. Few Entry-Level Motorcycles

After Harley Davidson stopped production of the Harley Street series, the Sportster Iron 883, and the Sportster 1200, there are few entry-level motorcycles suited for women and beginners. Women and beginners can only access these models on the used motorcycle market. Also, these entry-level motorcycles are the only few that are most affordable. Nowadays, most Harley motorcycles are built for experienced riders.


12. Poor Management and Leadership

Most of Harley Davidson’s failures are due to a lack of serious leadership and management at the local and international levels. The goals have always been numbers, sales, and implementing popular marketing strategies, resulting in certain lineups being neglected.

Shortly after Matt Levatich became CEO of Harley Davidson in 2015, the company’s finances started to decline after only a year he had been appointed. He eventually had to step down as the CEO in 2020 due to consecutive poor sales over the years.

13. Final Words

Harley Davidson has been the top motorcycle brand worldwide for years. The company has produced several motorcycles that quickly gained popularity shortly after their introductions. Harley motorcycles are also equally popular among custom builders due to their being easy to customize. However, the company has suffered financially in recent years due to not paying attention to customer needs nor implementing marketing strategies that could attract younger riders. Lack of innovation, adaptive marketing, and product diversity has resulted in poor sales that could result in Harley Davidson’s downfall. The company must learn from its competitors, expand its intended audience, and get better leadership and management to return to the right place.

You can make your old Harley motorcycle look new and cool by modifying it with aftermarket parts. You can find a variety of motorcycle parts available at Viking Bags’ online store, including handlebars, seats, backrests, sissy bars, fairings, and crash bars. Several luggage options are also available, especially for your Harley Davidson cruisers, including fork bags, handlebar bags, trunks, sissy bar bags, and saddlebags.

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