TM0703_Market Focus, Motorcycle Enthusiasts
By Paul Barbagallo
Motorcycle Madness was once a condition that almost solely infected the 350-pound Hell's Angel type who lives in old blue jeans and dirty leather.
Today, motorcycling in America is more for sport than for transportation, and it is more popular with all ranges of society than at any other time, says Buzz Kanter, editor in chief and publisher of motorcycle magazines American Iron and RoadBike.
"Our readers range from dentists to guys missing teeth," Kanter jokes. "We have found much of the growing popularity with motorcycles is from people well into their careers, usually in their late 30s through their mid 50s, who used to ride and gave it up while launching a career and/or starting a family."
"The expanding popularity of motorcycling and a growing desire for new and ever-better products has kept the industry healthy for an entire decade," says Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).
With 2002 sales up 9.4 percent, the U.S. motorcycle market is celebrating 10 consecutive years of rising sales, according to the MIC. Total motorcycle sales topped 937,000 in 2002.
"Even during uncertain economic times, Americans still want to buy motorcycles," says Buche.
As one of the most popular motorcycle brands, a new Harley-Davidson tops the cost charts at around $15,000. Most riders then spend $1,000 or more on accessories, another $500 on riding clothing and gear, and at least another $500 on insurance.
Current manufacturer-suggested-retail prices (MSRPs) of on-highway motorcycles range from $2,999 for entry-level models to more than $20,000 for high-end sport and touring bikes. The average MSRP of today's "street" or on-highway motorcycles is about $11,500.
Whether riders spend their dollars on Harley, Honda or Yamaha, the financial needs for motorcycling are great. "Motorcycling is not an inexpensive activity or hobby," avows Gary T. Sweet, vice president, marketing and membership, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).
The 270,000 AMA member-riders earn an average household income of $84,000, and own 2.6 motor-cycles. They spend an average of $809 a year on maintenance items and do about 60 percent of the work on their own bike. They also spend roughly $1,200 a year on apparel and accessories.
"Our members ride more than 5,200 miles a year," says Sweet. "As a result, they require a lot of products."
More Than Just Hogs
Thanks to the wide swath motorcycle enthusiasts cut demographically, and based on significant buying power, experts say there are many product offers that could be viable.
Financial and investment services, insurance, automotive products and services, audio/visual equipment, outdoor merchandise, and male-oriented catalogs round out the list of appropriate offer pitches for this market.
The outdoorsmen peripheral market particularly is key, many attest, because it falls in line with the lifestyle motorcycle enthusiasts have adopted. "[Motorcycle enthusiasts] are outdoor people who enjoy the weekends, their own free time, the fresh air," says Sweet. "Otherwise they wouldn't be on a motorcycle."
Sweet says the AMA often receives requests from outdoor, camping and hunting catalogers to use its list. The most frequent renter is the National Rifle Association (NRA), he adds.
A Neglected Niche
Even though motorcycle enthusiasts make for attractive prospects on paper, this market has yet to be heavily targeted by mailers.
"Motorcycle owners represent an affluent consumer set," confirms Lori Collins, director of business development, FocusUSA. "But mailers really don't put two and two together. It's the forgotten little niche."
Kanter concurs: "Surprisingly, few companies outside the motorcycle industry have discovered how affluent and active most riders are." Kanter finds the readers of American Iron and RoadBike are very responsive to appropriate direct mail pitches.
Girls Ride Choppers, Too
The Motorcycle Industry Council's national survey of motorcycle owners reveals nearly one out of every 12 U.S. motorcycle owners is female. That's about 8 percent of the nation's motorcycle owners, and the numbers continue to increase.
Nearly 230,000 students enrolled in Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) training courses in 2001; MSF estimates that one-third were female, demonstrating a strong and growing interest in riding by women.
So it looks like the boys have got some company.
The following is a sample of lists available for this market.
American Motorcyclist Association: 177,387 members who read American Motorcyclist magazine, the official publication of the association. Price: $125/M. Call: List Services Corp., (203) 743-2600.
Motorcycle Enthusiasts: 554,630 riders. Price: $65/M. Call: Focus USA, (201) 489-2525.
American Rider: 50,062 subscribers to a magazine for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts. Price: $85/M. Call: 21st Century Marketing, (631) 293-8550.
Motorcycle Cruiser: 44,608 active subscribers to a publication that tests and compares the latest motorcycle models. Price: $95/M. Call: Direct Media, (203) 532-1000.
Affluent Motorcycle Enthusiasts Mail-Order Buyers: 409,023 individuals who have made a mail-order purchase in the last 12 months. Price: $90/M. Call: Mail Marketing, (201) 750-3222.
Advanstar International Motorcycle Shows: 194,497 exhibitors and attendees of two annual motorcycle trade shows. Price: $150/M. Call: Chessie Lists, (301) 680-3633.
American Iron Magazine Blow-In Program: Inserts reach a universe of 3.3 million per year. Price: $30/M. Call: Leon Henry, (914) 723-3176.
Motorcycle Owners: 1.7 million individuals. Price: $65/M. Call: ClientLogic, (201) 797-7566.
Easyriders Mail-Order Buyers: 250,615 Harley-Davidson fans and owners who have purchased motorcycle-related products through the mail. Price: $85/M. Call: MKTG Services, (917) 339-7200.
American Motorcyclist magazine, the official publication of the American Motorcylist Association, touts 177,387