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A compelling look at the most important powersports consumer

January 23, 2009
Filed under Features

Could you believe out of the three groups of on-road motorcycle brands — domestic, European and metric — there is one that is much more likely to see quicker new unit repeat business than the other two?
Would you guess the perceived cost of motorcycle insurance is actually much better today than it was five years ago? Or, that the sport bike rider is almost three times more likely to change their stock tires with another brand than the touring or cruiser rider?
It’s details like these that keep us turning back annually to what we believe is the most in-depth account of the new bike buyer, the J.D. Power and Associates’ Motorcycle Competitive Information Study. The 2008 version, just pieces of which are shown in this edition, represents a detailed and personal scorecard of the industry in many ways.
For the second straight year, Powersports Business is providing an exclusive preview at this huge consumer survey in one, broad sweeping look. For this Focus section, we’ve concentrated on four major topics that we saw emerging trends in. Those topics include:
n why consumers choose one dealership over another;
n how consumers’ perception of the value of a new motorcycle has improved in terms of initial price and overall ownership cost;
n how riding habits have changed, not to mention riders’ view of fuel economy;
n and how this group of individuals, who purchased street and dual-purpose bikes, is increasingly become older.
With each of these reports, PSB readers will not only see the different trends emerging but also how they can differ radically between the groups of motorcycle brands.
Take the issue of trade-ins. Buyers of domestic brands, like Harley-Davidson, are much more likely to trade-in their used bike than their European or metric counterparts. In fact, domestic brand customers report trading in their used vehicles 48 percent of the time, which is at least 13 percentage points higher than European or metric buyers.
Or, take how often new bike buyers say they’ll purchase a new motorcycle. European consumers were almost twice as likely to say they will buy a new bike within two years compared to their domestic or metric counterpart.
We also have given, when appropriate, information on specific riding categories. The J.D. Power and Associates’ Motorcycle Competitive Information Study breaks up its findings into cruiser, touring, sport bike, standard and dual purpose categories. Sometimes the findings are not wholly different, thus are not worth diving into. But on many occasions, they are indeed notable.
Take events, for example. The cruiser rider is much more apt to attend a motorcycle rally than a sport bike rider. However, the sport bike rider is more inclined to attend a motorcycle race than the cruiser rider. To the industry guru, those facts might not be wholly surprising. But this one certainly should be: The dual-purpose rider is just as likely to attend an auto race as the sport bike rider.
All of these facts present a very compelling look at what has become the largest and thus most important consumer to the entire powersports industry: the new bike buyer. psb

Neil Pascale is editor-in-chief of Powersports Business. He can be reached at npascale@affinitygroup.com.

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