By Neil Pascale
On top of continuing their education on the luxury touring market, Victory dealers recently saw two new models: an addition to the brand’s cruiser line and a second lower-price offering from Polaris.
The new models, plus enhancements to the existing line, were unveiled recently in Nashville to Victory dealers, some of whom were able to see the brand’s first entry into the luxury-touring segment for the first time. Many more were able to ride Victory’s new touring bikes, the Vision Street and Victory Vision Tour, for the first time.
More important, they received information on the touring market and an in-depth look at that segment’s consumer, who in many ways is different than the customer that Victory dealers are used to dealing with.
The luxury-touring consumer is “at a place in their life where they have the time and the money and they’ve earned the right to buy a really nice and premium motorcycle,” said Mark Blackwell, vice president of Victory, comparing the luxury-touring consumer to the buyer of a Mercedes or BMW.
Besides having the means to buy a touring bike, such consumers also are usually affluent, in their late 40s-early 60s and are retired or semi-retired. And most importantly, extremely educated shoppers.
Blackwell said most luxury-touring consumers spend 14 months examining their options before buying.
“By the time they actually visit the dealer, they are pretty far” into their shopping process, he said. “They’ve dreamt about it. They’ve done some preliminary research. They’ve talked to a lot of their friends and other riders, and they made their list of what models they’re going to consider. Then they start visiting the dealer. They typically do a tremendous amount of research.”
The latter is particularly important to remember for dealers, Blackwell said.
“We emphasized that to the dealer — you need to know more than they do when they walk in,” he said, noting many such consumers have already decided on a bike before walking into a dealership. What they haven’t decided is what dealership to buy from.
“They’re going to ask you questions and they probably already know the answers to those questions,” Blackwell said. “They’re trying to see if they trust you, if they want to buy from you. So they expect you to be very, very knowledgable about these machines and be able to answer the questions.”
The good news about these customers — generally price isn’t that critical, Blackwell said. “Getting what they want is really, really critical.”
To ensure that happens with the Vision line, Polaris introduced a line of accessories and apparel that dealers were able to see for the first time in Nashville. That initial PG&A lineup of 60 items will grow as dozens more parts and clothing products are in development, Blackwell said.
Besides concentrating on the new touring market, Victory also added to its cruiser line by adding a second lower-priced bike. The new Kingpin 8-Ball is similar to the company’s existing Vegas 8-Ball in its blacked-out appearance and little if any chrome.
The Vegas 8-Ball has “been selling very, very well because of the lower price, but also because some people want to buy a bike that is more like a blank canvas where they can go in and totally customize it,” Blackwell said.
Another new addition to the Victory cruiser line is The Vegas Low, a shorter and narrower motorcycle than the Vegas. The bike, with its low seat height of 25.2 inches, is expected to appeal to shorter men, women and less experienced riders.
The latter group could be especially key as Victory has found “if they can’t put their feet on the ground, (motorcycling) is intimidating to them,” Blackwell said.
Part of lowering the Vegas meant ensuring the bike still gets ground clearance on turns, something that Victory has seen as a problem on some bikes that are modified by consumers or dealers.
“If you don’t do it right, you can get all kinds of problems where the tire bottoms out on the fender and you can get all kinds of safety and handling issues,” Blackwell said. “We were very, very careful to make sure that this bike is very safe to ride.”
Besides the new models, Victory also made improvements to its cruiser line by:
n Providing performance enhancements and new components to its Freedom V-twin engine, which now has improved torque and features a transmission with a new first gear for better low speed drivability and a new sixth gear to lower rpms on the freeway.
n Addressing three common complaints by dealers and consumers: improving the design and performance of the air box, the oil cooler and the hand controls.
All of these improvements, of course, came with the reminder that Victory dealers now have a second market to sell to.
“That was a very big idea to get across to the dealers that they have the opportunity over the next couple of years to double the size of their Victory business,” Blackwell said.
By Neil Pascale