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MIC Conference Looks to the Future

December 29, 2004
Filed under Features

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Key speakers at the day-long session in Tustin, Calif., included:
– Esmael Adibi, PhD., director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University, who discussed the national and regional economic outlook.
– Stephen M. Kinney, partner in Public Opinion Strategies, who analyzed the results of the 2004 national election.
– Bob Moffit and Pat Murphy, from the MIC, who discussed the new data communications program that will simplify digital communications between dealers and vendors.
– Paul Leinberger, PhD., senior vice president at NOP World, a leading market strategy and market research firm based in Irvine, Calif. Leinberger discussed the situation facing American brands during a time of global conflict. He also reviewed the latest Owner’s survey conducted for the MIC by Irwin Broh & Associates.
One of the most interesting industry stories at the conference was the report of the Motorcycle/ATV Owner Survey. The report is one of the powersports industry’s most comprehensive resources for information on motorcycle ownership, usage, demographics, and trends.
“This is essentially our industry’s census for motorcycles,” said MIC President Tim Buche. “By examining owner profiles and buying patterns, we’re able to identify significant trends.”
The report is based on a national telephone survey conducted on behalf of the MIC by Irwin Broh & Associates. The firm surveys 2,000 households that own motorcycles/ATVs and 2,000 non-owning households.
Trends are identified by comparing this year’s data with that of surveys conducted in 1998, 1990, 1985, and 1980. The current report reflects information gathered over 12 months, from October 2002 through September 2003.
Key findings of the survey include:
– Motorcycles are more mainstream than ever. Since 1998, there has been a 34% increase in the number of motorcycles — estimated to be about 8.8 million motorcycles — in use in the United States.
– Women are increasingly becoming part of the motorcycling landscape. Female motorcycle ownership is up to nearly 10% of the total motorcycle owner population. The percentage of female ownership increased from 6.4% in 1990 to 9.6% in 2003.
– The median household income of motorcycle owners exceeds that of the U.S. population as a whole.
– More than half of motorcycle owners are married.
– There are more people on two wheels than ever before. 24 million people in the United States rode a motorcycle at least once in 2003.
– Of all the motorcycles in use in 2003, 43% were purchased new, up from 33% in 1998.
– Riders are older and wiser. More motorcyclists today have college degrees and work in “white collar” jobs. The median age of today’s rider is 42, up from 38 in 1998. 29% of today’s riders have college degrees, compared to 23% in 1998.
– Sportbike owners spend significantly more on aftermarket purchases, including tires, repairs and maintenance, replacement parts, accessories and modifying equipment, and riding apparel.

DATA COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM
Bob Moffit and Pat Murphy briefed conference participants on the new data communications program being developed for the industry through the efforts of the MIC.
The bottomline here is that initial production testing is slated for 2005, following nearly three years of development.
The so-called PowerNet project is creating technology standards that will enable dealers to communicate from their dealer management computer system (DMS) to each of their vendors who participate in the system.
This approach, used successfully in the auto industry for many years, would enable dealers to operate only one system. It would eliminate the multiple communications systems used today to transfer data between dealers and vendors.
Through the system, a parts order, for example, would be a simple, fast, and accurate transaction. Without leaving his DMS, a dealer could send a parts order that would be instantly acknowledged. The OEM/distributor acknowledgement would post the order directly to the DMS. There would be no logging off and logging back on to the DMS. No double entries. A simple, seamless, interactive process eliminating hours of computer or FAX hassles.
Today, a number of powersports OEMs, distributors and DMS providers are actively engaged in adopting the standards prior to actual implementation. Participants have moved from designing systems to working out the kinks in cancelling a parts order. “When it gets to this stage, you know you’re moving from the theoretical to the practical in terms of implementation,” says Roger Peterson, Kawasaki vice president who heads the MIC committee.

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