Is Harley-Davidson Riding into the Sunset of Ageing Boomers or the New Horizon of Young Bikers?

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At the Masters of Marketing Conference (it could only be in the US to have such a title) a senior marketer at Harley Davidson was talking about brands must not neglect the “growth market” of older consumers to focus solely on youthful audiences.

I quote: “I’m going to go heretical on you, and say that youth does not own cool. Youth does not own growth. Youth does not own innovation or disruption…. And ‘old people’ are a growth market, too. We marketers worship at the altar of youth at our peril.”

Of course, I don’t disagree with what he is saying but it is a bit of a reverse from what Harley Davidson was saying back in 2011 when it was all about converting a new generation of bikers to love their products. Read my blog from the time.

Mark Ritson picks up on this story in this week’s Marketing Week. 

Definitely worth a read since it illustrates the problems of a brand trying to keep satisfying its young or old customers whilst appealing to the other age group.

There is nothing new in this issue. It has been around as long as there have been brands. Existing customers like thing to stay as they are – new customers want the brand to appeal to their requirements. Yep, it is difficult.

Take Saga, it is trying to throw off its image as being about the old-old. Many of the brand strengths that make it appealing to a 75 year old are a turn-off for a 55 year old. Same with AARP, a company that has struggled since I can remember to seek relevance with the younger-old. Age UK nearly collapsed (financially) when it tried to appeal to the younger-old.

Guess this is what makes life interesting and marketing a challenge. 

Image via flickr

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