Culture – Jean-Luc Mars: “Explaining our values” – Used HARLEY-DAVIDSON


Jean-Luc Mars: "Explaining our values"

Jean-Luc Mars, Managing Director of Harley-Davidson France, has agreed to answer Moto-Net’s questions as part of our Special Harley Davidson Report.

Jean-Luc Mars, Managing Director of Harley-Davidson France, has agreed to answer Moto-Net’s questions as part of our Harley Davidson Special Report.


Moto-Net: Does Harley-Davidson have a real strategy to conquer the European market ?
Jean-Luc Mars: Absolutely, because it is an area of ​​strong growth. There are several strategic axes: products, prices, promotion-communication and the distribution network. For the products, I mean the significant extension of the range taking into account the wishes of the European biker. The archetype of this is the StreetRod, a motorcycle much more oriented towards the roadster while respecting the codes of the mark which we summarize, in our jargon, by "Look, Sound and Feel". Clearly, we want the pleasure of driving to be found everywhere. Whether on an 883R or on a VRod.

Moto-Net: In terms of prices, it’s still not cheap ?
J.-L. M .: Of course. But we are in the high end! Our best selling 2005 is the Roadster 1200 R (367 sales at the end of September, 450 expected by the end of the year) on which we kept our prices. It’s a Harley but also a roadster. What matters in our approach is to properly position our prices according to our families of machines.

Moto-Net: When you talk about promotion-communication, we want to tell you that the American values, dear to the brand, are not very popular at the moment…
J.-L. M .: I see what you mean, but that’s not our primary concern. We want above all to win back the biker world. We are motorcycle enthusiasts and many of my team ride on two wheels. The strength of the brand is that it allows non-motorcyclists to be won over without neglecting enthusiasts. One of our keys is therefore to explain our values, to say why we make motorcycles and why they are typified. It is concrete. Misconceptions and a priori that circulate do not interest me. Now we are reworking with the media for communication around a "simple" motorcycle. Look at gatherings like the one in Saint-Tropez: 25,000 bikers, all in Harleys! With events like this, you can communicate while having real fun. Me, I say that the more there will be bikers in France, the better it will be !

Jean-Luc Mars in front of his best seller, the Roadster 1200 R, at the last two-wheeled World Cup.

Moto-Net: And the network ?
J.-L. M .: Two years ago, we refocused around fifty points of sale with a strong focus on service. Because we don’t want a two-speed network. The idea is that all the concessions are beautiful and that they be held by men who identify with the brand. In any case, with us, we do not standardize the height of the ceiling or the colors. It just requires people to be creative. But the heart of activity remains motorcycles, accessories only represent 12% of our turnover. On the other hand, we offer management training. We support our concessions.

Moto-Net: Let’s come back to your image: what are you trying to change ?
J.-L. M .: We want to avoid reductive clichés. I believe that we can just as easily address our long-standing customers, who are almost a family, as we do basic bikers. Do not fall into the trap of folklore either! The American side is essential, but we are not obliged to develop only this aspect and finally to deliver what is only obvious.


Interview by Pierre SYLVESTRE – Photos DR

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