Historically, how did Harley-Davidson manage to dominate the U.S. market? How did it do so and what were its sources of competitive advantage? And starting in the 70s Harley got into trouble, what changed? Internally? Externally?
Harley-Davidson is synonymous with the American Motorcycle culture and did not get there by accident. Since its conception as a company in 1903 the company has been known for their classic American style heavy bikes, their industry changing innovations and the superior quality of their American Made bikes. Innovations such as their “V-Twin” engine design revolutionized the motorcycle industry and gave Harley a “Raw Power” image that appealed to American males, whom were the main targeted consumer for Harley. Another reason why Harley dominated the U.S market was that they were skilled at marketing their bikes. Prior to Harley, bikes were advertised as utilitarian vehicles, Harley launched marketing initiatives that depicted their bikes as being part of a “lifestyle”, an American image that appealed to a mass demographic. Harleys became the ideal bike for the military, law enforcement, casual riders, and for biker gangs.
Trouble came for the company in the 70’s. Externally, in the form of massive foreign competition via the entrance of Japanese motorcycle companies. The completion from these companies began in the 50’s when these companies began to cater to other demographics Harley ignored. These companies made smaller bikes, which appealed to older males and females. These Japanese companies were also skilled at mass producing these bikes and in a more efficient manner. At this point, Harley had lost so much market and eventually was taken over by AMF. Here, Harley suffered internally, because AMF attempted to meet demand by producing more bikes. They failed to change much because the quality of the motorcycles suffered tremendously because of their use of less skilled production line workers.
What were the major...
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