Harley-Davidson Vs. Honda Motorcycles: Which Do American`s Prefer?
Harley-Davidson motorcycles were first built in 1903 in a Milwaukee backyard shed by William Harley and Andrew Davidson in 1903. A century later, Harley-Davidson motorcycles still capture the hearts of Americans and rule the roads.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles are mass-produced heavy bikes made for cruising and are known for their unique sound. Harleys are particularly known for the chopper-style motorcycle sound.
With the entry of Japanese motorcycles in the market though particularly Honda, competition for a share on the motorcycle-riding buyers get stiffer.
Honda’s motorcycles came at a much later date than the Harleys. The first Honda motorcycle was on sale in 1947. The American Honda Company came into existence in 1958. The 1959 Honda C100 Super Club was the first model sold in the United States. The Honda Club holds the distinction of being the best-selling vehicle in the world with 50 million units sold. In the 1970s up to the present, Honda is the recognized largest producer of motorcycles in the world.
During the 1960s, Harley Davidson had to contend with its tarnished image due to the motorcycles’ negative portrayal in Hollywood films. Harleys’ large motorcycles are often depicted as driven by rough characters. Harley-Davidsons were considered synonymous with “Hells Angels” and tough men who “beat up old ladies with chains”.
To compete with Harley, Honda adopted an advertising slogan that countered this tough image. The “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign became the overriding theme of Honda. Armed with the slogan, Honda launched the SOHC inline 4-cylinder 750 in 1969 which became very successful.
Harleys never competed with Honda head-on. Their marketing strategy has always been focused on selling a lifestyle instead of a mere motorcycle. It is the classic form versus substance approach. With Harleys banking mostly on its form, while Honda focuses on the practical or substance aspect of the bike.
Instead of trying to match Honda, Harleys new management tried to win back customers in the US by promoting the unique “retro” design of the motorcycles. They built machines designed to have the look and feel of earlier motorcycles. To be able to maintain high standards and sell the bike at competitive prices, Harleys outsourced the making of their components abroad. Technical improvements to the motorcycles were made and the buyers slowly took notice and returned.
A typical Harley-Davidson customer would be one earning an average of $78,000 per year. They would most probably be riding a $16,000 motorcycle which is the average cost for Harley’s cruiser. Obviously, the bike is intended for above-average customers.
To be able to generate a loyal following, the Harley today focuses on fraternity rather than the machine. Once you buy a Harley, you can be assured of exclusive membership to a huge organization made up of Harley owners called as Harley Owners Group (HOG). There are 600 of them spread all over the United States and operated under the support of the dealer. Style is given due prominence for this group. It is not unusual for customers to furnish their Harleys with leather accessories and other expensive trimmings.