From children’s toys to casual dining establishments and even beer, millennials have been blamed for killing these industries. Now another niche is reportedly on their kill list – motorcycles.
Robin Farley, an analyst for UBS, recently explained in a note that data showed there was a large divide in how millennials and the older generation viewed heavyweight motorcycles popularized by iconic brands like Harley-Davidson and Polaris.
As it turns out, millennials are open to buying motorcycles but not for the usual reasons. Baby boomers and older customers purchase Harley’s because they’re cool or as a hobby while the younger generation looks at bikes as transportation.
This ideological gulf has huge complications for companies that specialize in heavyweight bikes, like Harley-Davidson. The iconic brand is already dealing with an aging and slowly diminishing demographic as well as declining sales. As a matter of fact, the company’s shares have dropped 32 percent in the last year.
How millennials and the older generation view motorcycles are crucial. Harley-Davidson’s typical client is a family man in his early 50s who are enjoying an average household income of $90,000 and above. These consumers buy big bikes because they’re passionate about the product and the lifestyle it represents.
Meanwhile, younger consumers have more practical reasons for purchasing motorcycles. It also means they’re more concerned with practicalities like the price. The interest in cheaper bikes means lower margins for the manufacturers.
Farley says this critical divergence in a reason for buying a motorcycle is partly responsible for the heavyweight motorcycle industry’s move to focus on a new market of younger riders in order to stimulate growth. He further explained that unless the younger generation changes their views and see motorcycling as a hobby and not as simple transportation, the big bikes industry will continue to depend on an older demographic.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Farley pointed out that the second reasons millennials buy a motorcycle is because it “goes with their self-image.” This desire to look good is a positive sign for this niche industry.
Harley-Davidson has already started on a strategy that they hope will drive two million riders to the brand in one decade. Part of this plan is the release of “Livewire,” an electric motorcycle. The company also plans to establish riding schools all over the country.