Hogs in Hebei: Harley's Retail Appeal in China
- Part of TCBN's Global Brands Series
As Managing Director Asia Pacific for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, David Foley has noticed many differences between the US and China markets since Harley-Davidson entered the China market in 2005. One thing that remains the same, however, is the love of the ride.
Harley-Davidson is an iconic American brand that has passionate customers around the world. Dave Foley is responsible for Asia-Pacific markets at Harley. While attending the US-China Global Brand Summit, we had a chance to speak with us about the development of their retail network in that market.
We asked him first to describe what Harley riders are like in China.
You know, our riders in China are fantastic. They’re a lot like our riders everywhere in the world. They’ve got this passion around the brand, they want to get out and ride, some have more experience than others. But they all share this desire to get out with other riders and get out of the daily grind and enjoy life a little bit. And do it on a Harley, because something kind of magical happens when you throw your leg over one of our motorcycles. It’s turned out to be true in China just as it has in other markets.
Tell us about a memorable ride you were on.
One of the very first rides we did in China we had an event at the Great Wall. So we took a ride from downtown up to the Commune by the Great Wall and had a great time. In spite of the fact that it was raining, which makes the roads even more challenging than they already are.
How are you building out your dealer network in China?
We may have to modify our approach when we get into the market, as we will in any market, and China wasn’t going to be any different. The type of channel partner is different in that the market opportunity is different. Some markets you go in, like the United States, where if we’re setting up a new dealer it’s because we’ve identified a target point where we’ve got a certain density of potential demand, and it’s the right place to put up a store. Going into China, you don’t have maybe the detailed level of statistics, so you’re really looking for those opportunity markets, the immediate opportunities. And then the big challenge is finding partners that want to go into the Harley-Davidson brand, into a segment that’s relatively new and do a sport or leisure activity like motorcycling that’s relatively new in a place like China. And so finding people that want to do that and also meet our qualifications is always a little bit of a challenge. And in China it was the same. So it’s different in how it’s a challenge – finding good partners like that, whether they’re good retailers, but maybe don’t have as big as interest in motorcycling, or passionate about motorcycles but not as strong on the retailing side. You get that kind of mix in China and any of the markets we do business.