Blog: Dave LeggettCars and motorbikes

Dave Leggett | 5 October 2010

There were some interesting observations in this article from Honda's David Hodgetts concerning the diverse retail worlds of motorbikes and cars.

Can the two learn from each other? Maybe, but the cultures are very different.

Many car customers simply don't want to engage with the product on an emotional level in the way that motorcycle people do. But if you can get that going with a car brand, get something like the motorcycle level of enthusiasm going, the engagement of buyer and seller in a shared joy of the product, that's a very positive thing. And you do see something like that with certain car brands with sports values and a heritage that is 'independent of spirit' and not led by the kinds of all-pervasive big company values that dominate the industry. Lotus springs to mind. Maybe Saab loyalists are in a similar camp.

But the typical Honda car customer? Well, it's often more a commodity puchase than an emotional one, albeit a relatively complex commodity purchase judged on criteria that apply to all the volume brands in the customer's purchasing decision mix.  

And Hodgett seems to understand that selling Fireblades is a very different kettle of fish to selling Civics. Interesting to reflect on the brand values that apply to Honda as a whole though.

So, the Honda brand can support motorbikes and lawnmowers as well as cars. BMW's motorbikes support its premium brand values. And, somehow, the Mercedes-Benz freight truck or van is perfectly fine, part of an industrial powerhouse brand value that doesn't detract one iota from the prestige of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars. Industrial strength is being projected for Benz, the knowledge of the formidable Daimler parent overseeing in the background also there. And the consumer knows that there are Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks. There's a very long history and a Benz three-pointed star on a truck is instantly accepted in a way that a Jaguar badge put on a truck would be deeply unsettling and wrong.

The way these brand values seep into the popular conscious is a powerful thing. If you can shift motorcycles, lawnmowers and cars under one brand, great, but you'd want to be very careful about mixing things up.    

PARIS SHOW: Honda chief sees car/motorcycle common ground


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