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Business Management

The Millennial Paradigm Has Shifted, Have You?

Millennials are going to be the first generation to replace the economic power of the baby boomers. So what does that mean to me as a motorcycle industry professional?


EO_HiRes[dropcap]L[/dropcap]et’s start with a few definitions. Millennials are people born between 1982 and 2004. A paradigm is an idea or reality that requires people to reorganize their perspective of the world. Millennials are going to be the first generation to replace the economic power of the baby boomers. Some say that millennials are not going to be as well off as their baby boomer parents, but the flip side is that they are better informed and have higher expectations. So what does all this mean to me as a motorcycle industry professional?

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First off if you are trying to reach this audience by traditional marketing you are “pissing in the wind.” This demographic not only doesn’t pay attention to the traditional bombardment style marketing, they don’t trust it. They respond to recommendations from friends and peers, mostly through social media. They are not challenged by technology, they were born with it, and it is part of their daily life. They get information and make purchases when their fingers do the walking on their mobile device. When they take the time to break away they are looking for real experiences to challenge, to broaden and to enrich their lives.


Dealers today must have a social media strategy utilizing Facebook and Instagram. You must encourage some sort of interactive review of your business and the way you do business. This does not mean you have to be a social media expert, but trust me, there will be no shyster dealers left standing in this age of instant (and public) feedback. How about an app for your store that allows your customer to check your inventory and pay for their purchase so they don’t have to stand in line Saturday morning.

When a millennial comes through your door there should be no attempt to baffle them with bull, as they are probably better informed than your top salesman and maybe even you! You must understand millennials have a “can-do” attitude and not only look for feedback, they appreciate it. They are not in your showroom by accident. They have done research and have a plan on how a motorcycle is going to make their life better. You need to listen, guide and engage. They will respect your opinion if you respect theirs. Millennials are the most ethnically diverse generation and are also the most tolerant of different ideas.


They are not necessarily interested in their father’s Harley. While they still have an appreciation for customization, they are looking for more agile rides they can personalize.

It is a new world out there with many opportunities to grow your business if you keep an open mind. The unique experience of your shop should begin as soon as one as enters your front door. A friendly greeting and a chat about your customer’s motorcycle experiences should always precede any sales pitch.

If your shop set up allows, step outside and check your customers’ bikes and let them show you what their needs are. Information about group rides and gatherings should be readily available for this generation that is used to working in teams and seeks new friendships. Millennials get how the passion for motorcycles is a special privilege that can open the doors to an exciting world.


AIMExpo has adopted many millennial friendly initiatives including our own app, multiple social post partners, numerous experiential features and respect for all things motorcycle, new and old.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts about how we (AIMExpo) can better serve you as our great industry continues to evolve. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]

Bob Kay is the V-Twin Director of AIMExpo/MIC Events. He’s been involved in the motorcycle industry for more than four decades and is a third generation Harley rider, although he did start out in a Honda shop and did some short track and club road racing in his younger days. More recently he has been involved in producing custom bike shows, including the AIMExpo Championship of the Americas.

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