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Discussion Starter #1


Its a simple concept, goes by the name Luxury. Yep, that is the single most important factor involved in getting the LiveWire pushed through to production, oh you thought this was about motorcycles, innovation, technology or some environmental ideal, sorry, this conversation begins and ends with branding.

Best part, I bet its not even the branding you were expecting. Whats the common narrative, LiveWire is for greenie weenies and hipsters? Yes thats easy, now sit down, this is for rich white people. Livewire is for the current Harley clientele not yet in existence. What I mean is that a younger clientele cannot identify with the Harley brand yet because they have not reached the signifiers yet.

Hipsters are not old, YET, they don't have upper middle class incomes and commitments, YET, but what they do hold consistent is self definition through signs. Livewire lights up those signs in EXACTLY the same way a Sportster lights them up for the the middle manager, slick corporate jock or middle aged lawyer.

To bring this back to branding...

“Businesswise, this is smart,” said Dean, 31, who stopped riding after he got married three years ago and is starting to feel the itch again. “I’m going to take my photo of me sitting on this and post it to everyone I know. I’m not going to post me sitting in a Toyota.” While the idea of an e-hog has risks, he said “if Harley is doing it, that means it’s a viable thing.”
Pay attention to how Dean brands himself, even when he's speaking about HD he's projecting himself onto the product. "This is Smart" as in I'm smart so obviously I can identify with this, "Take a photo and post to everyone I know" Extending sign value, people will know I'M SMART because Harley is Smart and I'm associated with Harley. The most important though is the last, "if Harley is doing it, its viable" which really means if Harley is doing it people will recognize the brand, its not just some obscure e-Bike maker from the backwaters of Portland, this is the ORIGINATOR. Hashtag Trust.

The reason branding like this works overwhelmingly well is because if A is strongly associated with B, and B is strongly associated with C, then A is strongly associated to C.

But you don't believe me do you, I can tell, fine...

The company views electric power as a way to reduce emissions and prepare for a time when petroleum-based fuel may be more scarce. It’s also a way to appeal to younger, affluent consumers who want a clean way to get around in style without dropping $100,000 or more on a Tesla Model S.
The first sentence is there as a qualifier, it NEEDS to be there or else we would get suspicious, its the common narrative needed to mask the real story, Electricity is Luxury. It used to the tremble of a 1200cc V-Twin, or the fuel consumption of a 6.3L V8, but thats too ostentatious and if Luxury branding were allowed to continue down that path the people would demand socialism. So instead we shift the branding to electricity, what can you complain about now?

For much of its 111-year history, Harley sold choppers as fast as it could to riders it knew well: wealthy, middle-aged American white men. The recession shook that up.
Look at the above quote and compare it to this, "It’s also a way to appeal to younger, affluent consumers who want a clean way to get around in style without dropping $100,000 or more on a Tesla Model S." So the shift is from wealthy middle aged white men to affluent young (white) people. Essentially its the same target demo, we're not talking parents to children generation gap, we're talking 10 years difference, MAYBE.

“E-mail and social media gave HOGs a louder voice and more access,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, said in an interview, referring to the motorcycle maker’s enthusiasts. “To Harley’s credit, they see that as an asset, not a threat.”
Don't get it confused the LiveWire carries the same inherent value as a Street Bob or a Sportster, sure the propulsion is different, but both offer the same sign value for propagation. This is about ME , and YOU seeing ME being ME.

Thats why the Livewire won't just be produced, but thrive. It poses no fundamental threat to the Harley brand, the value proposition hasn't changed, simply who values it. The system continues unharmed, unchanged and we get to believe something has changed. Oh they'll toss in a shiny new bike as well...
 

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So if Harley's traditional customer and their new one are really the same, as you claim, does that mean that it is just that people's values have changed? It sounds like there is a slight generational shift, but also a cultural shift that is drawing people towards the Livewire. people have always wanted to say something about themselves through what they buy, I just think that people are trying to say something slightly different now than they were before.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No, no I don't claim they ARE the same, I claim they value the same thing and the Harley Brand is able to provide the same catharsis of those desires with differing product. Yes the propulsion and construction of the product is different, but as I wrote the value proposition does not change.

The point of everything I said was that there is in fact NO culture shift happening at all. A Culture shift would force a shake up to the brands value proposition, that is not happening, meaning that the demo is being adopted to the product not the product being adapted to the new demo.

Your last point simply illustrates the power of branding, by buying into the collective its expected tat one can define themselves as an individual, that sounds like insanity no? The underlying point is that the message being projected from purchase is not infact different at all. Harley RIGHT NOW represents a level of affluence, the whole biker culture is just rich boys playing dress up, Livewire will still convey an image of affluence, the brand is not changing one bit, nor what it means to people.
 

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That Luxury mention is interesting, i never seen it that way with these but it all adds up when you look at the industry as a whole along with the auto industry.
It's something I can see people buying into
 

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I do think there is demand for electric motorcycles though. I don't accept your argument that people only want them because companies are making them now. I will say that it might be a chicken and egg thing. The supply and demand feed one another.
 

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I didn't care too much about electric tech, was aware about it in cars but didn't see this coming this soon with bikes. HD bringing this out was surprising to me, and now i sort of want one.
 
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