In order to generate large number of memberships, the HOG was open to all Harley owners and was available for free for the first year. Subsequent to this, the annual membership fee was an affordable 40$/ year. This membership entitled the members to a plethora of benefits including subscription to the Hog Tales magazine, access to the Fly and Ride program (rentals at 39 locations around the country), insurance, roadside assistance, support of rallies as well as access to Harley Davidson memorabilia. This multi-beneficiary model led to a significant surge in the active members with a 75% renewal rate.
Increase in the active membership also serves well for the Harley Davidson Motor Company because the annual value of every active member is almost 1000$ more than an inactive member. H. O. G Rallies The rallies organized by HOG serve as a vital tool for building the brand community by linking riders together. It appeals to a wide variety of character traits of members ranging from need for meeting new and different people to the sense of achievement of adding to their biking autobiography. Rallies were classified into the following two buckets. 1) Destination Rallies: These rallies are those which start and end at fixed points.
They are conducted at multiple locations across the country to attract the widely distributed cast of HOG members. They however are extremely labour intensive to produce because of multiple rallies going on at different places. 2) Rolling Rallies: These are rallies which have no fixed start or end point. There is a greater emphasis here on being constantly riding and serve as something greater than a weekend getaway which defines a destination rally. They motivate the riders to go through checkpoints by driving in a sense of completion and accomplishment.
Unique local memorabilia add to the charm of rolling rallies. There is a greater impartment of brotherhood and togetherness as people from all over the country assemble together for these rallies and they are carried out over a longer time span. They are also significantly lower on the cost side and have a high sense of adventure which appeals to the typical ‘’macho’’ Harley owner. Posse Rides The high adventure-low cost success recipe of the rolling rallies led to the inception of the iconic HOG Posse rides.
The first posse ride was devised as a coast to coast ride from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. We wanted it to be a religion. A real challenge. A survival mission where every rider would look out for the other. Most importantly it had to be a one up on the Route 66 rally” says Joe Dowd one of the pioneers of the posse ride. The number of registrations was restricted to 250 members to give the ride a sense of exclusivity. The members were an even mix of rally veterans and relative novices. This led to a sense of spontaneity and momentousness which became the face of the first Posse ride. Certain rituals like the story night and the Posse oath became rituals for all future posse rides.
The challenging paths and the long journey coupled with the story nights and oath taking led to a tremendous sense of camaraderie among the Posse riders. Posse rides were a clear indicator of the core Harley Davidson philosophies of success and tradition which led to the inception of a sequel to Posse 1. Posse 2 was described as the border to border ride from Texas to North Dakota passing through the legendary,” Road to Nowhere”. The registration limit for this ride was increased to 400 to accommodate the increasing interest in the Posse Ride, while at the same time preserving the exclusivity of the ride.
Though many members did not approve of the route for the 2nd ride, they were actively interested in coming for it because it was the ride and not the route which mattered for them. This very aptly epitomises the entire concept of the Posse Ride. The Posse rides thus went a long way in addressing the issues of customer loyalty faced by the firm. Analysis of the Posse Riders The riders of the Posse ride are an integral part of the whole concept and their attitudes and perception regarding the ride is what builds the brand community for Harley.
This ride has been intended as a learning process for the riders as they are passionate about their Harleys and riding them. The ride will cement not only their initial perception about the brand but will also build new linkages. We look at the Fishbein multi-attribute model which helps us to figure out the score a customer attributes to the various dimensions to the brand. As the riders take part in the Posse experience, they already have built in ratings for the various attributes that contribute to the overall Harley Brand equity.
The ride is a crucial exercise to change the rating given to different attributes and also bring in new attitudes to the attribute mix. Riders of the Posse: Associations, Persuasions and the Stories Based on various interviews conducted with some Harley riders, some of the key drivers for them to associate with Harley as a brand and Posse as an experience are: * Ride gives them a sense of camaraderie and a chance to share a journey with individuals who have similar reasons to be associated with a brand like Harley.
As one of the riders, Alan Landry says that “He considers himself to be Harley person”. Also, one of the values associated with it is that “Riding speaks of freedom”. * For many riders, riding the Harley is a lifestyle in itself and only another Harley owner can understand it. Also, the association with the group drives observational learning where the styles adopted by your co riders can influence the buying patterns as well. * For most of the riders, the Posse ride represents an opportunity to break free and thus associating the brand with a carefree attitude.
At the same time, the fact that a brand like Harley stands behind the biking culture gives you a sense of empowerment and pride. “There is a patriotic sense that goes along with riding a Harley motorcycle”, as one of the Posse riders Richard Parry aptly summarizes. When asked to give a reason that why would you recommend Posse ride to someone, Barbara Hammet remarked: “If you have to ask you would not understand.
There is not one reason. This statement clearly illustrates the deep associations and bonding that Harley owners have with their bikes which transcends across new bikers, old bikers, bikers across different income levels etc. These deeply held attitudes and perceptions about Harley are held because of its long standing lineage and its continued support of various rallies and gatherings and the continued efforts to make the Harley community feel special. This translates into the intended behavior of Harley riders eagerly signing up for more than one Posse ride.