CYCLE – Yamaha Introduces STAR Initiative

Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., Cypress, Calif., is revising the way it markets its cruiser motorcycles. The first step in the recently announced process featured the introduction of a new brand name. Yamaha's cruiser bikes now all fall within the company's Star motorcycles brand.
Yamaha representatives say additional strategies associated with the business plan include a new cruiser-only Web site,; new forms of dealer training; an increase in accessories and bolt-on parts; expanded demo events and event support programs; and a special service and customer relations support program.
“This is probably one of the biggest projects we've undertaken since I've been with Yamaha,” Brad Banister, Yamaha Media Relations Manager, told Powersports Business. “The Star name has become really well-known among our cruiser customers, and so Yamaha thought now would be a good time to show its dedication to those customers by forming a brand and associated products and services just for them.”
Banister says approximately 63% of Yamaha's streetbike business is for its cruiser models, bikes that fall within the Star brand.
“What we're doing is taking a look at our cruiser business - which is strong and an extremely important part of our business - and working on positioning the Star brand to, perhaps in the next five years, be able to stand on its own … away from what Yamaha is.”
“You'll see things occurring in small increments,” he said. “We redesigned the Star logo, and if you've seen our recent Star advertising, you'll see the Yamaha brand name is getting much smaller within the ad and the Star logo makes up the majority of the ad; we just launched a new Web site; and we recently launched the Star motorcycles semi rig.”
While Star bikes have received their own web site, consumers still are able to preview Yamaha's cruiser bikes and associated accessories, apparel, parts, services, and events through Yamaha USA's main Web site,
The “Star Motorcycles” custom truck and trailer, a distinctive black and silver rig, has an integrated display area showcasing the full line of Star cruisers, a selection of accessories and apparel, and several hand-crafted, customized Star bikes.
Banister says changes do not only encompass marketing and advertising efforts, but will apply to product as well.
“The Road Star is still a great motorcycle and one of our best-sellers, but, to a lot of people, the Warrior represents more of what the Star brand could and should be, and so we're making some changes to the line to reflect a wider array of models,” Banister said. “People may say, 'Well, they're doing what Suzuki did.' No, no, no. Actually, I tend to think Suzuki did what Yamaha did in 1995 - created a full product line. Now we're doing a lot more, expanding, and doing things like going to the events, talking with the people, and creating a strong aftermarket base.”
Yamaha is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The company's first production cruiser was the XS650 Special, introduced in 1978. The first Star model, the 1300cc Royal Star, debuted in 1996. For 2005, the company offers 16 cruisers, ranging from the Virago 250 (MSRP $3,499) to the Royal Star Midnight Venture ($16,999).

- Guido Ebert

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