Finding the Right Fit: Selling a Motorcycle Bra in the Naked Bike Market
Let’s take a look at a clever idea that came across my desk a few years ago. It could have been tanked by some assumptions based on incomplete research.
My client—let’s call him Albert—created a “Motorcycle Protective Cover,” a motorcycle bra, if you will. The cover protects the motorcycle fairing (the upper and lower cowling and fender) from all sorts of flying road debris. Similar items are marketed to luxury car owners. Albert secured two patents for the invention.
Albert came to me for help in finding the right strategy for licensing his patents and for locating industry partners. My company, Emanus, created a market overview to get us started.
Understanding the potential market is crucial and we knew that the motorcycle bra appealed to riders by protecting showpiece bikes and providing a canvas where enthusiasts can proudly display their identity.
Here are a few new things we learned:
- Motorcycle sales are robust and “naked bikes,” like Harleys, are the hottest selling class.
- Harley riders are more likely than other riders to spend their disposable income on something for their motorcycles.
- 73% of Harley riders choose to add custom parts to enhance the looks of their bikes.
- The Harley rider spends thousands of dollars on accessories within a year of buying their bike.
It was beginning to look like Harley riders would be our target audience for the motorcycle bra!
Whoa. What about market segments, buyer behavior, and so on?
Stopping here would have resulted in a very bad assumption, because most Harleys are stripped of the colorful fairings that Albert’s invention is designed to protect. Owners of these naked bikes like to show the high-tech frame and suspension hardware that fairings cover.
More research showed that the market segment offering the greatest potential for the motorcycle bra is sports bikes owners, the second fastest growing market. While Harley riders chose custom parts first when spending money, sport bike riders chose performance equipment. In fact, we found that owners of sport bike spend significantly more on aftermarket performance purchases, including accessories, modifications and riding apparel.
Studying the purchasing habits of sports bike owners also gave us direction for marketing the motorcycle bra to these specific buyers. Not only should the item be marketed in colors and brands to appeal to riders who want to express their identities, it should also be marketed as a performance product that protects the painted cycle finish.
Now we were headed somewhere.
Today’s lesson: Test your assumptions before you ride down that long, lonesome marketing highway. Gain a better understanding of your market and its participants to save valuable time. We’ll talk about why in future conversations.
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About the Author
Will Jacques is President of Emanus, a consulting firm that works with entrepreneurs, early-stage, and small-/medium-sized businesses.