A new direct-to-consumer initiative designed to attract younger customers to motorcycles, ATVs and even Side-by-Sides, is now launching with approval from the Motorcycle Industry Council Board of Directors. MIC and its OEM, distributor, dealership and aftermarket members, are calling for industry- and community-wide participation and collaboration to make the RiDE initiative a success.
Now in final preparations for 2018, RiDE is being launched in partnership with Feld Entertainment — the global entertainment company that runs Monster Energy Supercross. Feld is also behind Disney Live, Disney on Ice, Marvel Universe Live and the Monster Jam series.
“With RiDE, we’re going to reach beyond motorcycle enthusiasts, taking our powersports story to the massive Monster Jam truck series audience,” said Chuck Boderman, VP, motorcycle division, American Honda Motor Co. “We will be at 11 pit parties in big stadium venues from Anaheim and Nashville to Foxboro, Massachusetts.”
MIC President and CEO Tim Buche added that RiDE is about getting new riders interested, swinging their legs over seats, getting behind the handlebars, with professional guidance from rider coaches and instructors. That, he said, is the best way to inform them, excite them and knock down any perceived barriers to riding.
“We know we need the next generations of customers,” Buche said. “We always will.”
RiDE programs are slated for seven cities with thousands of square feet of engagement area and hundreds of participants each hour, starting at Monster Jam truck events on the East and West Coasts, Arizona and Tennessee. Audiences who are not primarily traditional motorcycle enthusiasts will have an immersive, hands-on powersports experience.
“We will have dirt bikes and ATVs for a taste of all the fun,” said Paul Vitrano, MIC chair and VP global government relations of Polaris Industries. “For little kids, we’ll have non-motorized two- and three-wheelers. We will have Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoaches and ATV Safety Institute Instructors there to help.”
RiDE will also utilize virtual reality technology, with participants wearing VR headsets. They’ll climb aboard motorcycles, that are bolted down but have the ability to rock, pivot and move, and the VR program will give guests a sensation of what it’s like to ride a motorcycle in a trail-riding environment.
RiDE will have a website and social media pages to connect with potential customers. Guests can register beforehand using Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. They will be able to instantly connect and retrieve photos taken at RiDE, giving them the ability to post their own content on social media. When guests leave the RiDE venue, they will be able to take local dealership information with them and they’ll receive a follow-up e-mail with photos.
“It’s about three things,” said Kerry Graeber, VP MC/ATV sales & marketing of Suzuki Motor of America. “Experience, getting that very first hands-on ride. Instruction, how to get in on a class and where to get started; the local dealership and riding areas nearby. And, it’s about inspiration, to go, get out for adventure and family time.”
The demographics of the Monster Jam audience are ideal for the powersports business. With an average household income of $78,000, one third of them are 25-34 years old, another third are 35-44 years old. Nearly half of them are female and three-quarters of them have children.
“Monster Jam events are a beginning,” said NPA COO Jim Woodruff. “When you think about it, there are tremendous opportunities to share the experience with others in between events. It could be festivals, dealerships, maybe even schools. The opportunity to share the riding experience and get people excited is unlimited.”
The powersports industry is supporting this program with funding, coaches, instructors, product to ride, aftermarket riding gear, plus considerable staff time. But others are being called on to assist in a joint effort.
“We want to work with the dealers, we want to work with the distributors, we want to work with motorcyclists and ATV riders to get everybody working together, sharing our passions, sharing our stories with new generations of young riders,” said Mike Doughty, GM, motorcycle sales and marketing of Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. “Let’s get new butts on seats and teach these new young riders how to get started the right way, all of us working together.”