Harley-Davidson's Focus Strategy

Harley-Davidson's Focus Strategy
Case Code: BSTR413
Case Length: 17 Pages
Period: 2009-2012
Pub Date: 2012
Teaching Note: Not Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Harley-Davidson
Industry: Motorcycles
Countries: US; Global
Themes: Marketing Communication, Consumer Behavior, Brand Management
Harley-Davidson's Focus Strategy
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts

In the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2011, US-based iconic motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc. (Harley) posted a profit of US$105.7 million as against a net loss of US$46.8 million in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. For the full year 2011, income from continuing operations more than doubled to US$548.1 million and retail sales increased by 5.9% worldwide. Shipments rose 11% to 233,117 bikes. Commenting on the company's performance, Keith E. Wandell (Wandell), President and CEO of Harley, said, "Our improved performance in 2011 is the result of the tremendous efforts of all of our employees, dealers, and suppliers.

Harley-Davidson is all about fulfilling dreams through remarkable motorcycles and extraordinary customer experiences. In 2011, we made strong progress at transforming our business to be more agile and effective than ever at exceeding customer expectations. The changes underway across the organization will enable Harley-Davidson to be world class and customer led like never before, with shorter product development lead times, flexible manufacturing, and an unmatched premium retail experience."

Founded in 1903, Harley was the world's leading manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles. The company's bikes were sold through authorized dealers in more than 70 countries. Besides motorcycles, the company also offered a line of motorcycle parts & accessories1 and general merchandise. Over the years, Harley had established an image of raw power which became its unique selling proposition. The brand adopted a focused differentiation strategy wherein it targeted specific products at niche segments in the market. The Harley brand had achieved a cult status among its loyal customers as it characterized adventure, tradition, and power.

In 2008, the global economic recession and an aging customer base had significantly dented Harley's sales. In October 2009, the company launched a long-term business strategy called "Delivering Results through Focus" to get through the recession and expand the strength of the Harley-Davidson brand. The objective of this strategy was to enhance productivity and profitability through continuous improvement in manufacturing, product development, and business operations. As part of the strategy, Harley transformed its operations to make them more flexible and customer led. It focused on shortening product development lead times, implemented flexible manufacturing, expanded globally, and offered a premium retail experience to its customers. According to the company, the strategy had helped turn things around as evident from the fact that sales of its motorcycles and related products grew in 2011...

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