Harley-Davidson Buyback Importance

The Harley-Davidson buyback from AMF was historic and significantly impacted the marketing of biker-related websites.

Importance of Motorcycle-World Knowledge

Knowing about the Harley buyback and other motorcycle world knowledge and history will help your internet marketing. Here are several reasons how they can help:

  • Biker world knowledge and history help identify your biker target audience better. Knowing your motorcycle company’s target audience is key to writing content.
  • Knowing the biker world is also essential for motorcycle website design, biker graphics, social media advertising, Facebook ad management, and more. For instance, and as noted, there are some color schemes and graphics that you can’t use. If you don’t know, ask us.
  • Think about how passionate people are about Harley-Davidson, and you can probably understand that the better you know them, the easier it is to put together informative and convincing content on your biker site
  • Content must use the correct terminology. If not, it will hurt both sales and the perception of your biker brand.
  • When speaking to customers, it will be apparent if your marketing company person has or lacks basic biker world history and knowledge.
  • Plus, it helps guide your social media posts: post type, graphics used, content creation, etc.
AMF Harley-Davidson Logo

HD Buyout by AMF

Now, let’s move on to the history of the buyout of Harley by AMA (American Machine and Foundry). In 1969, AMF bought Harley-Davidson. Before 1969, there were different slumps in HD’s sales. First, there was a drop in Harley’s sales during the Great Depression. Then, there was a boost in sales during WWII because of the war contracts.

After World War II, sales slumped. However, Harley tried creating various models appealing to a broader audience. Then, in 1952, Harley pushed for a 40% tariff on Japanese motorcycles. And it didn’t pass. Significantly, Harley-Davidson was charged with restrictive practices. Of course, this hurt HD’s brand and sales.

And that brings us to 1969 when AMF bought Harley. AMF was able to streamline production and also cut costs. However, the motorcycles produced were still expensive compared to Japanese motorcycles. Plus, their quality and performance were inferior to the bikes made in Japan.

Harley Buyback

After over a decade of trying to make HD successful, AMF was at the point of declaring bankruptcy. However, 13 investors (including Willie G.) purchased Harley back from AMF for $80 million in 1981, often called “The buyback.” Or at least for Harley enthusiasts, it is the most frequently used term.

Next, without the Harley-Davidson buyback from AMF, Harley wouldn’t exist. Or, at the very least, the company and the motorcycles built would be completely different.

Eventually, the new ownership group developed a new strategy. Included in the plan was Harley’s introduction of classic-looking early-era motorcycles instead of trying to create bikes that looked more like Japanese bikes. Then, in 1983, tariff protections were put in place for the big displacement bikes, which helped HD become more competitive.

Next, many of the parts used to make Harleys were outsourced to other countries. This worked well because it lowered the cost of parts and increased the bikes’ reliability. As the cost went down and quality went up, sales increased.

In 1984, the mono-shock design used on Softails was purchased, making riding a Harley more enjoyable – at least it was easier on riders’ bodies. Also, in 1984, the much more reliable Evo engine (“Blockhead”) was introduced.

Importance of the Buyback

As you’ve read, the Harley-Davidson buyout and buyback are significant marks in Harley’s and bikers’ history. Without the Harley buyout, the look of motorcycles would be much different, and the biker world would be, too. The buyback paved the way for the success of future motorcycle companies.

In addition, the buyback is part of the pride Harley owners have. Also, the HD buyback is part of the “Buy American” movement in the biker world. And the “Harley mystique” started in part due to the above. All of this is part of the passion many Harley riders have. It is also important for marketing your biker site.

Today, riders under 45 and definitely under 40 aren’t as interested in Harleys. One reason is that they don’t remember the above challenges and the HD comeback. Subsequently, when marketing and designing your motorcycle website, the target audience varies by age. It impacts what they like, the motivation behind their choices, what they value, what they ride, the brands they prefer, etc.

Last, we’ve compiled Revolution’s Marketing Academy blog articles with helpful information on marketing motorcycle companies. Our biker search engine marketing services pages have more information.

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