Polaris aims for Harley-Davidson with revived Indian Motorcycle
Reporter- The Business Journal
Indian Motorcycle might be America’s oldest motorcycle brand, but Harley-Davidson Inc. has the market cornered.
So can Polaris Industries Inc. eat into Milwaukee-based Harley’s market share? It certainly seems Polaris thinks so, or at least is doing everything it can to build momentum for the launch of the 2014 Indian Motorcycle this summer.
In May’s issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, Polaris took out a full-page ad hyping the revived and revamped Indian Motorcycle. And although the ad doesn’t mention Harley by name, it’s clear who Polaris is aiming for.
The top half of the ad depicts a black and white photograph of a motorcycle with the word, “Hobby.” The bottom half is a color photo of an Indian Motorcycle with the word, “Passion.” The tagline: “Choice is coming to American motorcycles.”
That ad follows earlier efforts to generate buzz, including a teaser sound byte of the bike’s engine released last December and hiring Mike Wolfe, host of History Channel’s American Pickers, as a spokesman, according to Bloomberg.
“We know that Polaris is really talking up their plan and expectation for the Indian brand and that they’re gunning for us,” said Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim. “We always take our competitors seriously. It’s just good business to do that.”
But Polaris has to make up a lot of ground. Last year Harley-Davidson’s primary competitors in the heavyweight motorcycle segment had an average market share of just 5 percent, Blankenheim said. The largest had less than an 8 percent share.
Polaris has less than 5 percent market share, Bloomberg reported. The company, perhaps better known for its snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, debuted its Victory motorcycle line 15 years ago.
“We also know Polaris invested a lot in motorcycles for 15 years,” Blankenheim said. “And they still have a market share in the low single digits.”
Polaris, based in Minnesota, assembles engines for the Indian at its plant in Osceola, in northwestern Wisconsin.