Harley-Davidson SWOT Analysis

Harley-Davidson SWOT analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, internal and external strategic factors case study
A Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Germany. A SWOT analysis of Harley-Davidson points out the need for reforms in product and market strategies. (Photo: Public Domain)

Harley-Davidson is the fifth biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. The company’s success is hinged on its ability to address the issues pointed out in this SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis indicates the internal strategic factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external strategic factors (opportunities and threats) most relevant in the business. In Harley-Davidson’s case, these factors support potential expansion and a stable performance in the global motorcycle market. However, this SWOT analysis indicates changes in expansion strategies to improve the company’s standing. Harley-Davidson can benefit from more aggressive expansion to negate the effects of aggressive competition.

Harley-Davidson’s SWOT Analysis highlights the need for change in the company’s product mix, innovation, and global market strategies.

Harley-Davidson’s Strengths (Internal Strategic Factors)

Harley-Davidson’s strengths are primarily linked to the company’s brand image and the chopper motorcycle market culture. This element of the SWOT analysis identifies the internal strategic factors that contribute to the firm’s capabilities for growth and development. In Harley-Davidson’s case, the following are the most significant strengths:

  1. Strong brand image
  2. Strong base of loyal customers
  3. Expertise in custom/chopper motorcycle production

Harley-Davidson has one of the strongest brand images in the motorcycle market. This brand image is especially notable because of the custom/chopper biker culture, which is strongly associated with the Harley-Davidson brand. This condition has also established a stable base of loyal customers. Moreover, more than a century of experience creates the company’s strength of expertise in the business. In this element of the SWOT analysis, Harley-Davidson’s strengths ensure business stability despite aggressive and low-cost competitors.

Harley-Davidson’s Weaknesses (Internal Strategic Factors)

Harley-Davidson’s weaknesses are based on the current limited focus of the business. This element of the SWOT analysis tackles the internal strategic factors that prevent the company from maximizing its performance. The following are Harley-Davidson’s most notable weaknesses:

  1. Narrow product mix
  2. Limited market reach
  3. Limited supply chain

Harley-Davidson’s narrow product mix is a weakness because it prevents the business from reaching more market segments. For example, the company focuses mainly on chopper motorcycles. Harley-Davidson is also weak because most of its sales are generated in North America. The company has insignificant or nonexistent sales in developing countries. In relation, Harley-Davidson has a limited supply chain that hampers potential expansion in the global motorcycle market. In this element of the SWOT analysis, it is shown that Harley-Davidson must overcome its weaknesses to support global growth and expansion.

Opportunities for Harley-Davidson (External Strategic Factors)

Harley-Davidson’s opportunities are related to the global motorcycle market’s potential. This element of the SWOT analysis identifies external strategic factors that can facilitate business growth and development. Harley-Davidson’s most significant opportunities are as follows:

  1. Global expansion
  2. Product diversification
  3. Alliances with complementary businesses

Harley-Davidson has the opportunity to expand, especially in developing markets. Also, the company can broaden its product mix to include a more diverse array of motorcycles and related products. In addition, Harley-Davidson has the opportunity to establish business alliances to increase its market reach, similar to its partnership with Lehman Trikes. As shown in this element of the SWOT analysis, Harley-Davidson has significant opportunities to grow its business, especially internationally.

Threats Facing Harley-Davidson (External Strategic Factors)

The threats facing Harley-Davidson are based on market trends and legal structures. This element of the SWOT analysis covers the external strategic factors that could reduce the company’s performance. The following are notable threats against Harley-Davidson:

  1. Aggressive competition
  2. Imitation
  3. Increasing preference for electric vehicles

Aggressive competition threatens Harley-Davidson. For example, Toyota and other motorcycle manufacturers are aggressive in selling low-cost products. Harley-Davidson also faces the threat of imitation, especially now that other companies are also offering custom/chopper bikes. Moreover, the environmentalism trend has a negative impact on Harley-Davidson, whose products and brand are known for internal combustion engines. In this element of the SWOT analysis, Harley-Davidson must implement product innovation strategies to address the threats to its business.

Harley-Davidson’s SWOT Analysis – Recommendations

The SWOT analysis of Harley-Davidson reveals the need for reforms in the business. The global motorcycle market presents opportunities for growth. However, Harley-Davidson has a narrow product mix, a limited market reach, and a limited supply chain. The company also needs to address the environmentalism trend. Thus, the following are the recommendations for Harley-Davidson to further grow its business:

  1. Broaden the product mix through innovation and diversification
  2. Globally expand, especially in developing markets
  3. Globally expand the supply chain
  4. Innovate to make Harley-Davidson brand and products environmentally friendly
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