The legendary Milwaukee-based motorcycle company, Harley-Davidson Inc., saw its first quarter income drop more than 25 percent to $ 186.4 million compared to the same timeframe in 2016.
The company’s revenue fell from $ 1.75 billion last year to $ 1.5 billion so far in 2017.
Bill Alpert, a senior editor at the financial magazine, Barron’s, said the company’s target demographic is aging, which is contributing to the declines. Motorcycles in general don’t appeal to millennials as much as they do to their parents’ generation, “middle-aged white guys in the U.S., Europe and Japan,” Alpert said.
Besides an aging customer base, Alpert said the big bikes Harley is known for have been popular in oil producing areas — from North Dakota to Texas — experiencing economic downturns.
Harley sold 33,316 bikes in the United States in the first three months of 2017, compared to 2016’s first quarter of 35,326, a drop of 5.7 percent. Worldwide sales are down by 4.2 percent so far this year, with a total of 55,049 sold in 2017, compared to 57,458 in the first quarter of 2016.
Harley-Davidson has made progress trying to appeal to women and minorities, but the quarterly report is concerning, Alpert said. “If it continues and Harley can’t find new riders beyond this demographic group, it’s a problem.”
On its corporate website, Harley-Davidson listed a long-term growth strategy. It includes a goal of creating 2 million new riders in the U.S. by 2027, expanding its international business and growing its business with minimal environmental impact.