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  • Irene Kim: You don't have to be a biker

  • to know about Harley-Davidson.

  • Harleys are big, loud, fast,

  • and inherently American.

  • Commercial: Until you've been on a Harley-Davidson,

  • you haven't been on a motorcycle.

  • Jake Holth: You get some of that instant respect

  • just riding one alone.

  • Kim: And for decades,

  • that iconic American brand worked.

  • In 2006, the company's US sales peaked.

  • It sold over 260,000 bikes in the United States

  • and reported a profit of $1 billion.

  • But after the recession struck in 2007,

  • Harley sales plummeted,

  • dragging the stock price down with it,

  • and the company still hasn't completely recovered.

  • Matthew DeBord: In decades, they could wind up

  • just disappearing.

  • We'll all still associate Harley-Davidson

  • with being the greatest motorcycle brand in the world,

  • but there won't be any motorcycles.

  • You won't be able to buy one.

  • Kim: So, what happened?

  • Harley-Davidson got its start in 1903

  • out of a shed in Wisconsin

  • where William Harley and Arthur Davidson

  • made their first motorcycle.

  • But the company didn't really take off

  • until World War II.

  • And, in a way, if it weren't for the war,

  • Harley-Davidson may not exist today.

  • During World War II, Harley-Davidson

  • produced about 60,000 bikes for the US military.

  • DeBord: This was when you really had people

  • who'd never experienced serious machinery

  • that can deliver.

  • I mean, it's a machine of war,

  • but it's also a h--- of a lot of fun.

  • Commercial: A terrific test for men and machines,

  • they take the bumps in high gear.

  • Now they're real veterans of the saddle.

  • Kim: After experiencing the atrocities of war,

  • soldiers returned home

  • and saw America in a different light.

  • And out of that, they created a counterculture

  • that would become the building blocks

  • for the Harley-Davidson lifestyle.

  • DeBord: America is a very conservative place at the time,

  • and a lot of guys came back from that,

  • and they said: "Uh-uh, I'm not interested in that.

  • I'm gonna get me a Harley-Davidson motorcycle,

  • and I'm gonna go live on the road.

  • I'm gonna live my life on my terms

  • with freedom, mobility, attitude."

  • Kim: Between 1945 and 1970,

  • the number of registered motorcycles in the US

  • jumped from 198,000

  • to 2.8 million.

  • But it was Hollywood

  • that set Harley-Davidson motorcycles

  • apart from the rest,

  • with films like "The Wild One"

  • and "Easy Rider" featuring Harleys.

  • Billy: All we represent to them, man,

  • is somebody who needs a haircut.

  • George: Oh, no.

  • What you represent to them is freedom.

  • Kim: By the end of the '70s,

  • Harley-Davidson wasn't just selling motorcycles anymore;

  • it was selling a lifestyle,

  • with jackets, vests, and T-shirts.

  • Harley-Davidson even had its own club,

  • called the Harley Owners Group, for devout customers.

  • In short, if you owned a Harley-Davidson, you were cool.

  • And baby boomers took notice.

  • DeBord: The core baby boomers, they're the ones

  • who really built Harley up into the juggernaut

  • that it became in the postwar period.

  • Kim: By the '80s, baby boomers were prospering,

  • and so was Harley-Davidson.

  • The Harley Owners Group

  • grew to more than 90,000 members.

  • In 1984, the company made a profit

  • of $2.9 million.

  • Just two years later, profits hit

  • $4.3 million.

  • Harley-Davidson went public in 1986

  • and continued to rake in cash into the millennium.

  • In 2006, as its core customer reached middle age,

  • the company's stock price peaked,

  • and it reported over $1 billion in profit.

  • But then, in 2007, the recession hit.

  • Like many companies during the Great Recession,

  • Harley struggled with its sales.

  • Its stock price plunged by 60 points

  • from its peak in 2006 to 2009.

  • The 86% drop marked a 13-year low.

  • Before the recession, Harley had been trying to reach

  • emerging markets, like women and young adults,

  • with marketing events, beginner bikes,

  • and smaller, more fuel-efficient models,

  • but it had little success.

  • And at the end of 2009,

  • the company reported $55 million in losses.

  • So, to survive the recession,

  • the company refocused on the kind of bike

  • it knew its core customer wanted,

  • which were big, loud models.

  • And it worked.

  • Profits rode back up

  • to $844 million in 2014,

  • but not everything was as good as it appeared.

  • Those profits just masked the brand's long-term issues.

  • DeBord: If you looked at a chart, what you would see

  • is not, you know, this kind of thing,

  • where it goes [makes crash sound] like that,

  • but more like, you're looking at

  • this kind of slow erosion.

  • Kim: The first issue is that

  • Harley's core customer is aging.

  • In 1985, a motorcycle owner's median age

  • was 27.

  • By 2003, it was 41.

  • And by 2018, it rose to 50,

  • which means Harley-Davidson's customer base

  • is only getting older.

  • And right now, no one's taking its place.

  • The second factor is the price.

  • Harleys are expensive.

  • According to The New York Times,

  • the average cost of a Harley is about $20,000.

  • They're also not practical vehicles for commuting

  • and usually end up becoming pricey toys,

  • which leads to the third and final problem:

  • Harley-Davidson's brand just hasn't captivated millennials

  • the same way it did baby boomers,

  • and the baby boomers that helped the brand thrive

  • also burdened the company with the reputation

  • that Harleys are only for middle-aged white men,

  • trapping the company between brand loyalists

  • and future growth.

  • But Harley-Davidson isn't going down without a fight.

  • The person tasked with solving these issues

  • is Harley's CEO, Matt Levatich.

  • DeBord: He has the most difficult job in the world.

  • He has the choice of just sitting there

  • and riding out this slow erosion,

  • but he has decided that he's gonna take this opportunity,

  • I think wisely, to try to ensure a better future.

  • Kim: One way Levatich is doing this

  • is with Harley-Davidson's buyback program.

  • Holth: That is a program that Harley offers

  • on their entry-level bike, known as the Sportster,

  • where you can buy a newer Sportster

  • and trade it in within a year and get every dollar

  • you spent buying that bike on an upgrade.

  • It's a great way to kind of get your feet wet

  • and then upgrade to something that's better suited to you

  • after you kind of figure it out.

  • Kim: Under Levatich, the company is focusing

  • on reaching out to new riders.

  • When Business Insider reached out to Harley-Davidson

  • for comment, a representative sent over a release

  • about the company's current strategy,

  • which focuses on expanding its global market

  • and launching new products,

  • like electric bikes and smaller models.

  • But right now, there's another obstacle

  • standing in Harley's way.

  • Donald Trump: We will have a 25% tariff on foreign steel

  • and a 10% tariff on foreign aluminum

  • when the product comes across our borders.

  • Kim: Which means it's now more expensive

  • to produce motorcycles in America.

  • In response, the European Union introduced

  • a retaliatory tariff on US goods,

  • including bourbon and motorcycles,

  • which The New York Times reported

  • would have made the bikes about $2,200

  • more expensive in Europe.

  • To avoid the tariffs, Harley continued

  • to shift manufacturing to other countries,

  • which Trump and some of Harley's core customers

  • didn't appreciate.

  • Trump: Harley-Davidson,

  • please build those beautiful motorcycles

  • in the USA, please, OK?

  • Don't get cute with us.

  • Don't get cute.

  • DeBord: In contemporary industrial economics,

  • you don't build the bikes in the US

  • and put them on a boat and send them

  • where you want to sell them.

  • You manufacture them at the point of sale,

  • and that way they can be properly aligned with the market.

  • Kim: With all these factors in play,

  • can Harley-Davidson grow its business

  • while protecting its brand?

  • DeBord: They are stuck, but they're stuck

  • with a not unappealing problem,

  • which is that, even though they're stuck,

  • they can still make a lot of money on the stuckness.

  • They still control a huge percentage of the market,

  • and they're able to use that market control

  • and the products that they sell in it

  • to generate very substantial profits

  • and share those profits with their investors.

  • Kim: And Harley-Davidson can then use those profits

  • to reinvest in the business and try new things.

  • DeBord: The brand equity that Harley has

  • is infinitely valuable.

  • It's amazing.

  • Kim: But who knows if that'll be enough?

Irene Kim: You don't have to be a biker

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哈雷戴维森的兴衰(The Rise And Fall Of Harley-Davidson)

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 05 月 24 日
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