Every motorcycle company wants one, the mass produced category killer, the one model that does it all and everyone wants it. Turn them out by the tens or hundreds of thousands because their appeal is universal. Well, dream on. The motorcycle world has become far more fractured and segmented and more riders want something a little different. Their needs are specific or their tastes are less common and being part of the undifferentiated masses is not for them.
This applies to the U.S. and probably Europe but not in Asia where the small displacement motorcycle and scooter is sold in numbers that would make a marketer over here weep. And that is the reason for the push into China and other overseas markets by the likes of Harley Davidson, they are looking for those customers even though their products don’t fit.
As every manufacturer struggles to come up with the newest and best technology, the best design, the most appealing model, no matter how superb any one of them is, only a small part of the market will want it. It’s not that the buyers aren’t there, it’s just that the buyers all want different things and this is a real problem for large companies that have to sell a lot of bikes in order to be profitable. This problem compounds at the dealer level when a dealer chooses which models to order, hoping they guess right for the fickle and fractious potential customer. When you look at the amount of research, design and development costs that go into any one model only to have it sell in small numbers, the major companies are taking a huge gamble every time they come out with something new.
Customers have come to expect a lot because in almost every other product area, there are options galore and if you don’t have it, off they go to someone who does. Motorcycle companies are faced with this same expectation and are pulling their hair out trying to read the tea leaves before sinking money into their latest creation. These companies have to face the reality that category killer models are done. There are a few bikes that still seem to dominate in their respective segments, the Honda Gold Wing comes to mind for example, but going forward it’s going to be very difficult to establish a new model with the same dominance of any of the older and fading models.
More choice for customers, more headaches for motorcycle manufacturers, another trend to watch.
The Kneeslider: Motorcycle Trends – Declining Trend 1