It appears everyday day is an opportunity for something to go wrong with the American motorcycle manufacturer that is Harley Davidson. Falling stock price, stalled sales, high prices, part supply problems, assembly plant closures…and now the company is being accused of being ‘woke’ even by its most trusted of fans.
The issue that many observers are witnessing is the erosion of old guard values and company hierarchy more interested in keeping with modern political correctness rather than reach out to its customer base.
Budweiser have had a disastrous time of late with their failure to link up trans gender ideals and their own corporate identity. So in a move to recover some ground, they launch a special edition Harley Davidson beer can, which has been viewed poorly on both companies.
As the company has developed with the times as well as their products evolving to meet the demands of the modern rider, for many the price is just too high…not only in literal but figurative terms too. Somewhere along the way they have lost their soul and are paying the price for leaving their stalwart admirers in their dust in favour of ‘high quality customers’ who can afford and are willing to pay for H-D bikes.
In as much as the company as a whole, along side their bikes can be criticised, it is also a problem with the structure of the company itself and those at the top that many are finding it hard to deal with.
Harley Davidson riders once knew that those at the top were bikers themselves and could be seen mixing it up with other like minded enthusiasts at rallies and events throughout the year. But those days are long gone in favour of board members coming from totally unrelated businesses and most likely have never sat on a bike let alone ridden one on a consistent basis.
Even CEO Jochen Zeitz claims to ride on a regular basis and uses the ubiquitous lifestyle and freedom mantra, but how often are they really riding and how connected are they with the business they are involved in? For some they are all too far removed from what the stalwart fan requires them to be and the company prizes profitability and believing their own marketing hype rather than winning over the customer base for continued loyal appreciation.
It is being increasingly stated that when companies go woke they indeed will go broke! Budweiser are having a torrid time of it at the moment so anything can happen when a error in judgement affects those who would normally buy their products.
Could this happen to H-D? Well of course it could but possibly not at such a drastic rate unless they make the ultimate stumble. For them it has been an erosion over a long period of time which is reaching a critical mass and a perfect storm of customer dissatisfaction, over priced products…and bikes that just do not appeal to the masses as they once did.