Case Detail

Case Summary

Harley-Davidson: Chasing a New Generation of Customers

Case Number: 5-113-010, Year Published: 2013

HBS Number: KEL742

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Authors: Neal Roese; Mohan Kompella

Key Concepts

Branding, Consumer Marketing, Global Strategy, Innovation, Market Analysis, Market Research, Marketing, Marketing Strategy


In July 2007, Mark-Hans Richer became Harley-Davidson’s first chief marketing officer. Its riders were aging, which the company saw as an existential threat. Although Harley-Davidson had a record sales year in 2006 and had maintained a commanding share of the heavyweight motorcycle market for the previous decade, it needed to take new action to sustain its growth.

Richer needed to deliver a new generation of riders and a more diverse customer base, all without losing current Harley-Davidson customers. He also knew that he could not relax: the average tenure of a CMO in 2007 was only 27 months and a complete new product development cycle would take a minimum of four years.

Learning Objectives

After analyzing the case, students should be able to:
• Recommend marketing decisions for a brand with extremely high loyalty in light of various consumer behavior indicators gleaned from market research
• Understand the power of leveraging existing assets as opposed to innovating new products
• Understand the psychological basis of customer loyalty, including drivers and metrics of loyalty

Number of Pages: 12

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Marketing

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Industry: Motorcycle, Automaker

Organization Name: Harley-Davidson

Organization Department: Marketing

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: Chief marketing officer

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2008