Harley-Davidson India has announced plans to launch a music-based property – Harley Rock Riders. Developed in association with Rolling Stone India, the initiative will commence on September 9, 2010, with a five-city tour featuring bands like Split, Them Clones, Thermal and a Quarter, Menwhopause, Native Tongue, and the relaunched Indus Creed. At a press event to spread the word about the upcoming gigs, we caught up with Sanjay Tripathi, director- marketing at Harley-Davidson India, to ask about what the year since the launch has been like and what’s to come.
What’s been happening since the launch last year?
Harley-Davidson was established in India in August 2009. Of course, we were building our brand and selecting our dealers since. We started at Auto Expo 2010 where we launched our 12 products, declared our prices, and after that we conducted ‘Book your ride’ and various riding events. We opened bookings to our customers on April 20, 2010. Deliveries have started recently. We have showrooms in Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Delhi and Mumbai is the fourth. Sometime, in mid-October, we’ll open in Bangalore.
Research was an important part of it [selecting these cities]. Of course, there is a biking culture and biking market existing here already. There is a big bike market in these five cities.
How big an opportunity does the Indian market offer?
Opportunities are great. The motorcycle market is growing at the rate of 25 percent plus. As for the youth market, 50 percent of the population is below the age of 30, which we see as huge potential. And there’s 9 percent GDP growth, which is the envy of the world. What is more important, biking culture is existing over here.
Is it going to be challenge to get youngsters off their bikes and onto a Harley?
I have a slightly different opinion. Today, in cities, young people are globalised. I think shifting to Harley-Davidson is part of his dream. We conducted a lot of research. There’s so much love and affection for Harley, even we in fact were surprised. At Auto Expo, close to 1.5 million people came to our stall, we had our 12 models and rock bands playing there. Music and Harley-Davidson go really well. And we want to promote that and take it forward. The Harley-Davidson culture will become an integrated part of youth culture in India, that we’re very sure about.
How will you go about communicating to this audience? Will we see an Indian TVC
It is difficult for me to say when. We have tied up with Saatchi Delhi and Republic in Mumbai to carry out our creative work for all the work for Harley Rock Riders etc. We have started our marketing campaign, but that is more 360-degrees. More than just going mass on TV, it’s about experiential marketing: [getting people] to sit on the bike and experience it. When we say lifestyle marketing, Harley Rock Riders and Harley Owners Group (HOG) will be a part of that. We are thinking of various things in association with our dealers which will be a part of the Harley culture and lifestyle in India.
Digital will be big for us. We have a very interactive website www.harleydavidson.in. You can do an EMI calculation there, it has everything about our bikes, Harley Rock Riders, the Harley history and prices. It has the Harley feel to it.
Besides promoting music and Harley through Harley Rock Riders, what else is in the
Harley Owners Group is the largest biking community in the world. Any person who buys a bike, automatically becomes a member of HOG and, sometime in October, we will be starting the HOG process, which includes riding, music and various other benefits. What is more important in HOG is the camaraderie of people riding together.
There’s Harley-Davidson merchandise at the store, but at the end of the day, don’t you want to sell more bikes? Any chance of getting into the music merchandise business?
Of course, we want to sell more bikes. We have apparel and accessories (in fact, we have about 5,000 accessories). So for any person coming inside the store, the bikes are there, but when he’s going out, he’s taking a little part of Harley-Davidson back with him. The dream is being fulfilled. As for music merchandise, if the customer wants it, we’ll get it. We’re very open to ideas, this is our long-term commitment to the Indian market, and to support Indian bands.
What are bookings looking like at the moment?
Initial figures can’t be given right now. By the third quarter of this year, we’ll be releasing our figures.