Differentiation

When most people think of American made motorcycles, the first name that comes to mind is Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company, although Indian Motorcycle Company is a close second in the market now.  Both companies have a long lineage for their brand names in the motorcycle industry, although Harley-Davidson has been the only one to consistently survive ownership changes over the years.   Being founded in 1903 by William Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson, the company grew from the shed where they produced their first motorcycle to the industry giant it is today.  Now the company is encouraging riders to “Live Your Legend” in their new marketing campaign, by utilizing the hashtag #liveyourlegend they will be able to share the stories of actual riders of the memorable moments and friendships made through riding.

Indian Motorcycle Company has not shared the same success as Harley-Davidson over the years, in 1953 the original ownership ceased operations and discontinued all models.  This lead to a constant change of ownership over the next 50 years until 2011 when Polaris Industries announced their acquirement of the brand.  Since they’ve had the brand, Polaris has put the focus on the historical significance of the brand, even keeping the same model names and incorporating the classic styling of the original machines.  Their “Be Legendary” campaign has been running since the beginning of the year, encouraging consumers to join them in getting back to their roots in the industry.

Both of these companies are running similar campaigns, wanting consumers to see themselves as the legend behind their brands, but what makes their approach different?  Harley-Davidson spends a lot of time “listening” on social media.  A quick scan of their Facebook page shows posts encouraging fans to participate by answering a question or posting a picture of them and their motorcycles.  Using their current campaign, they are not only encouraging engagement with the motorcycle community, they are also getting content from the public to use in the campaign.

Indian Motorcycle takes a different route with their marketing; their Facebook is a place you can see posts about their history, blurbs about their bikes, the events they are sponsoring and participating in, and a little bit about custom bike builders who have won an award using a custom build Indian Motorcycle.  It’s obvious the company is less focused on their social media presence than their physical presence to reach their target market.

Although both companies are successful with their marketing, they are drastically different in their approaches on social media.  Do you think that social media truly has an impact on their expansion and reach to their target markets?  Or is their target market more interested in the actual experience and physical marketing aspects?

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