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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Same problem for Harleys and sailboats



So what's the connection between Harley Davidson Motorcycles and sailing? They are both suffering from some of the same societal pressures. Neither Harley Davidson nor the sailing community quite know what to do with Millennials.

Sales of the big motorcycles are down. Not enough young people are getting into riding. One obvious reason is that those big American iron monsters cost a fair penny. Young people are financially strapped, as they are stuck between the high cost of education and low paying jobs.

Another issue is that they didn't grow up taking engines apart and swinging hammers. Their generation grew up with screens. Instead of bending tin they are more likely to sling computer code. Different skill sets.

Of course, boating can be expensive too. Then there's the issue of the skills necessary to keep a boat going. It's been said that sailing is boat repair in exotic locations. Fewer of this generation are likely to know where to even begin.

A lot of Harley and boat owners have a similar obsession. They have a real pride of ownership. Some of these folks rather clean and polish their rides than actually take them out. Millennials are less likely to want to own things. They are all about experiences. Rather than buy a physical object, they are more likely to travel to Thailand to tour the temples.

I'm not sure what Harley is going to do about their motorcycle sales problems. Their advertising doesn't seem to be pulling in the young crowd. Their current customers are getting pretty long in the tooth. The changes the company would have to make are probably too radical for the old guard. If they could reduce the price, maybe develop some slick new electric bikes, and find a way to sell a motorcycle lifestyle young people connect with; then they'd have a chance. Leather jackets and fossil fuel behemoths aren't cutting it.

A segment of the sailing community is starting to make progress reaching Millennials. To reduce cost they are promoting club memberships with shared boats. Groups are offering basic maintenance courses for people who've never turned a wrench before. There are some nice beginner sailboats hitting the market, so that helps. Also there's a huge market of good used boast, but they have the problem of people needing the skills to restore them.

One of the things starting to drive interest in sailing are all the great videos on YouTube When Millennials see people of their generation out exploring the world and having the time of their lives, it generates interest. It's the best advertising the boating community could have, and they didn't even have to pay for it.

The world is changing. Businesses can ignore the change and go under, or they can adapt.

-Sixbears

10 comments:

  1. My mates are sailing Australia to Timor with 3 young kids right now. More GenX than Millennial but inspiring nonetheless: http://simonandmayra.com/

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    1. Thanks for the link. Sounds interesting!

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  2. harley can do the same on youtube or pbs. sponsor films about , for example, touring the grand canyon area on bikes, featuring safe driving habits and mechanical knowledge, so it seems approachable to someone who has never driven a nail.
    all it needs is education,and the desire to ride made approachable.
    then bike rental helps get the toes wet and eventually some sales will follow once the young discover that they like riding and how it is more economical than a car.

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    1. Actually, those big Harley's don't really have great fuel milage. My car does much better -and I can carry a canoe on the roof!

      But yeah, giving people exposure to riding and adventure would certainly help.

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  3. While sailing and cycling are leisure activities, at least in theory, I see a similar lack of interest and ability in general life skills with the younger generation. I don't think it bodes well for them.

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    Replies
    1. I picked two pretty unrelated things to show how young people have a different mindset. We grew up with tools and grease under our fingernails. They did not.

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  4. At my age, I better stick to watching videos of someone else's adventures. I'd love to learn to sail, and would really like to have another bike. My health and common sense tells me to watch instead. Bummer!

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    Replies
    1. Don't let too much common sense take all your fun away. :)

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  5. Another thing is that the Harley legend isn't cutting the mustard with younger people, they aren't enamored with the name.
    Knowing that Japanese bikes are cheaper and higher quality too.
    Even my generation saw the difference and yet yuppies still bought Harley for the image.
    Youngsters don't wanna do what Gramps did.

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    Replies
    1. They are going to need more than an old image to get the young people back. It's going to take some technological innovation, great prices, and public exposure.

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