Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and Harley’s current clientele are addicted to it. The problem the Milwaukee motorcycle company has though, is that their clientele are aging out of ridership. Rather than continue to market to the same group of older adults, Harley is reinventing itself with an electric-for-everyone program, and the goal is to get kids riding Harley products as young as possible. When the brand of nostalgia you’re peddling doesn’t appeal to youths, create some new nostalgia.
While the company hasn’t explicitly stated this is its strategy, it’s easy to see from a thousand-foot look at the full future lineup. Harley have recently completed the purchase of balance bike company Stacyc. These electric action cycles don’t have pedals, and derive power from a Dewalt-style slide-on battery packs. They sell two sizes of these balance bikes for young children to pre-teens.
Based on the below video, which depicts a family out for a ride, these can be ridden by kids as young as three years old.
While there are some who may think a sub-$1000 product from Harley might cheapen the brand, I think it will help the company develop a long-standing customer platform that offers something for every stage of life. If you can get a three year old to enjoy riding a Harley product, there is an opportunity for them to be customers for life. That’s the new nostalgia Harley is hoping to bank on. It will take decades for it to pay off, but the potential is there.
Is there a toy you remember from your childhood that inspires your enthusiasm today? It may be something as small as a hot wheels car, but you feel warm and fuzzy when you think about it, right? Well, marketing exists to play on those feelings to convince you to buy something.
If Harley can capture riders from three years old with branded electric balance bikes, then transition them into e-assist bikes, e-mountain bikes, or urban electric scooters as adolescents, and grow its electric motorcycle range to be similar to its current range of gasoline bikes for various stages of adulthood, it’ll be on the right path to creating a whole new generation of Harley lovers.
I hope they can survive this slump to see this product growth through to fruition, because the future is electric, and Harley is headed in the right direction. Now, let’s talk about those huge prices.