Millennials not buying motorcycles? How could this be?
Earlier, we touched on a major problem facing the powersport industry in Millennials Aren’t Riding: Should They Be? but I’ll reiterate for those of you who aren’t up to speed: Millennials are just not that into motorcycles. And, sure, they have their reasons. Hefty student loan debt, less-than-ideal riding conditions as more Millennials move into cities, and let’s not forget the absence of sentimental value. These are just a few of the top reasons cited by youngsters who make up Generation Y and choose not to ride.
As a result, motorcycle sales have been less than promising in recent years, with Harley-Davidson reporting a 13.3-percent decrease in U.S. sales for its previous quarter compared to the same quarter in 2017, and a 10.2-percent decrease in overall sales between the years 2017 and 2018.
According to USA Today and MarketWatch, motorcycle sales in the U.S. are dropping because 1) Baby Boomers are “aging out” of riding, and 2) Millennials aren’t picking up the slack.
Are the older generations to blame?
Aging is an inevitable part of life; we can’t help that our bodies aren’t as equipped for riding as they used to be. So, are we really part of the problem? Uh-huh. Truth is, we aren’t getting any younger and whether we’ve embraced the crow’s feet or not, we must embrace whatever youth we have left. Entrer, Millennials. (That’s French, in case you’re wondering.)
Say the “old-timers” of the biker world were able to ignite a passion for riding in Millennials and help turn these youngsters into a new generation of Harley-Davidson Millennials, Honda Millennials, Yamaha lovers, and the like? The drop-off in motorcycle sales could be remedied, couldn’t it? Because I would hate to think what might happen to this beautiful sport if not. (Netflix and chill, anyone?)
OK, OK. How do we instigate a Millennials-Motorcycles matchup?
I’ll tell you how: Instead of running from Millennials and risking the demise of motorcycles entirely, we can embrace our youthful counterparts and find ways to compromise (a word Edward Flattau of the HuffPost defines as “the lifeblood of democracy.”) What I mean is, as the older, ahem, wiser bunch, we need to find ways to appeal to the younger group’s better nature, which, when you think about it, is a major part of reaching a successful compromise.
For example, while you may not be totally thrilled at the idea of brushing up on today’s pop culture, a Millennial wouldn’t hesitate. So, watch a movie that appeals to the younger crowds every once in a while, or learn the lyrics to a song you hear on the radio that you might be too quick to turn off. Who knows? Some of these pop culture icons might even ride motorcycles, so there’s your common ground!
You might be thinking I’m grasping at straws here, but I would urge you to view the sacrifice you’d be making as a compromise—a gateway, if you will, to appealing to the starry-eyed Millennial’s better nature. Once you’ve done this, the possibilities (and conversation topics) are endless.
How else can we make this ‘appeal’?
Since we can’t beat them over the head with things like ‘superchargers’ vs. ‘turbochargers,’ V-Twin vs. inline-Four, Honda vs. Harley-Davidson (Millennials, please tell me you at least know H-D!) at first, we’ll need to get a little more creative in our approach. Instead of overloading them with every motorcycle-related fact and figure known to man, share some of what you enjoy most about the sport with Gen Y and allow them time to reflect. Then, ask them to tell you about the things they value most, and see if you can’t find some common ground.
What if I don’t want to appeal to Millennials’ better nature?
While you may be reluctant to compromise at first, understand the alternative means sacrificing your motorcycle, all the friends you’ve made, and the biker culture altogether, an outcome Flattau deems possible the instant “middle ground has been exhausted.”
Folks, I think middle ground is in desperate need of some beauty rest at this point, and I’ve already provided the stats to prove it. So, what do you say?
In the end, it’s all about engaging Millennials in meaningful conversations about what we value most in our lives. Once we do, it’ll be cake trying to encourage these new generations of motorcyclists to think about the benefits of riding, including the efficiency of riding a motorcycle versus driving a car, the sense of freedom they’ll get only on a bike, not to mention being inducted into a culture that will never turn its back on them.
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