Brand makes huge impact with local consumers at Minneapolis IMS
Though Indian Motorcycle chose the Chicago International Motorcycle Show to take the wraps off its new Dark Horse model, the previous weekend was also big in terms of IMS stops for the brand — Feb. 6-9 marked the Minneapolis show in Polaris’ backyard.
Indian was present at all 11 IMS stops for the first time since Polaris took over the brand in 2011; however, the Minneapolis show is always a top priority on the schedule.
“This is our show; this is our game,” Indian marketing manager Julie Elepano told Powersports Business. “While Minneapolis isn’t the biggest in the IMS market, it’s probably the biggest show for us because we get such an outpouring of support from the community for both Victory and Indian. It’s critical. And because we have a smaller dealer base here, it’s really nice to let the larger Twin Cities community know that Indian is here.”
Indian made its presence known with a large, carefully crafted booth blasting loud music near the entrance of the show, just behind the exhibit for its sister brand, Victory. In addition to the typical bikes and apparel, the booth also included a sign pointing out Polaris’ operations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Elepano said Polaris’ goal throughout the IMS circuit has been to build awareness of the brand, educate people about Polaris being the right home for Indian and gathering leads.
“People are still not 100-percent aware of Polaris owning Indian,” she explained. “It’s very much telling the Polaris strength story. It’s very much making the local markets aware of the closest dealers. In every market we have dealer representation at the show, and that’s beneficial for the dealer because they’re bringing in leads and beneficial for us because we’re spreading the word.”
Apparel, custom bikes and celebrities also were part of the Indian IMS presence. With the IMS season concluded, Elepano reports that Indian had a successful run, as dealers and/or Indian employees represented Indian throughout the country.
“We’ve had a great reception everywhere we went. We do a lot of lead capture at these shows, and we’re bringing a lot of people into the Indian family. Where we’ve been able to do demos, the bikes have been incredibly well received,” she said.
The new Scout and Roadmaster have been attracting the most attention this show season, as the IMS stops have been the first place some consumers have seen those models. And those who haven’t had their pulse on the industry over the past few years are also seeing the entire lineup for the first time.
“Many people still haven’t seen the new Indians, so they’re floored by the size of the bikes, the beauty of the bikes, the price of the bikes — that they’re lower priced than the last incarnation. And I think that people are generally quick to embrace it,” Elepano said. “What’s been gratifying is seeing with each show the number of people walking around in Indian apparel; it’s growing as we go. The brand is making a bigger impact than it did at the beginning of the IMS season and than it did last year, so we’re happy to be here.”
And Indian didn’t miss a chance to make a splash Feb. 13-15 at the last stop on the IMS tour in Chicago. It’s Indian Chief Dark Horse, a blacked-out Chief, was unveiled in Chicago on Feb. 13 with a reveal on the show floor, a 5-mile ride and a party at a local bar.
“Chicago is the No. 1 heavyweight market in the country, and so we wanted to focus on that market as a place to launch this bike,” Elepano said. “It’s dark; it’s gritty; it’s kind of an attitude bike, and there was no better place for us to launch the bike than kind of a dark, gritty city like Chicago.”
Elepano believes that model, along with the Scout and the Roadmaster, will draw customers into dealerships this spring, leading to a big riding season for the brand, which she said is performing well overall.
“Dealer count is growing substantially. Retail sales are going well,” she said. “We’ve had some challenges with shipping bikes, but we’re working through those things. It’s a startup brand in a lot of ways, but consumer reception has been phenomenal. We tripled our social reach in a year, which has been spectacular. People are ready and willing to embrace Indian again.”