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Business Management

P-selling To P-sychos

Human beings ride motorcycles primarily because they are fun, convenient and represent a lifestyle with which we want to be connected. The machines you offer represent an emotional commitment and lifestyle expression to us – unlike the European and Asian scooter markets where they are purely tools for transportation. Harley-Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles; it sells a lifestyle, which in turn brings the parts, pieces and ingredients along for the ride. So what are you selling?

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Psychographics is the study of personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles. It is nothing like the more commonly known statistically-driven demographics. Face it: your customers are not just a number, so don’t treat them like one. Human beings ride motorcycles primarily because they are fun, convenient and represent a lifestyle with which we want to be connected. That vibe cannot always be maximized by a statistical model. The machines you offer represent an emotional commitment and lifestyle expression to us — unlike the European and Asian scooter markets where they are purely tools for transportation. Harley-Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles; it sells a lifestyle, which in turn brings the parts, pieces and ingredients along for the ride. So what are you selling?

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With the help of a study conducted by the Motorcycle Industry Council via Experian Marketing Services, we have a taste of several customer psychographic categories, along with a summary of the lifestyle they are pursuing. What does this psycho-babble mean to you? Simple — sell their lifestyle and you will sell more of the products that fit that lifestyle. More information is available to MIC members, which now includes dealers, manufacturers and related trades (details can be found at www.mic.org). Remember, your pre-judgments and opinions aren’t important by comparison to what we customers think of ourselves. The better you understand us (customers) and know how we “think,” the better you will be able to sell and support us.

Stop pushing your products onto us regardless of our backgrounds. Instead, help us understand how your products enhance the lifestyle we already envision ourselves leading. Based on the following psychographic profiles from Experian, ask more questions and lead us to our own discoveries.

duck dynastyStock Cars And State Parks

Rural, middle class between the ages of 35 and 64. Working adult children are often living at home bringing the household income up above average. Fishing, hunting, boating and camping are pure fun, while sports and potluck dinners bring family together. Trucks, SUVs and full-sized vans are the vehicles of choice, often with 4-wheel drive and usually made in the U.S. Classic rock and country music are their favorites. They shop for discounts, but they tend to spend more than they can afford on passion-driven purchases. Those can include what you have to sell — dirt bikes, UTVs, PWCs and cruiser motorcycles.

  • How To Sell: Think like Cabelas or BassPro. Proactively engage this customer type with e-blasts or at sports-related functions. Invitations, special events, contests, open houses and seasonal specials are all on their radar. Be able to deliver or ship it to their door — way out in the country — because your destination store is more expensive to visit than a UPS delivery charge. If it’s a vehicle they want to buy, make it part of a special event with a personal e-invitation or snail mail, if that’s the way your customer base still operates. Justify the asking price with their assumed need for improved recreation, comfort and fun with the family. Don’t just sell the man of the house; sell the entire family … even if they are not present.

portlandiaBirkenstocks
Upper middle class couples living in small towns and cities usually between ages 45 and 65 years old. This “crunchy granola” crowd wears those cool silver lensed- or white-framed sunglass brands and is drawn to smaller weekend and vacation getaways far from the maddening crowd. They are not always attracted to the latest designer fashions, but more to functional, long lasting brands and looks. They tend to express their status through their cars and claim they like domestic auto brands, but the cars in the garage show a fondness for import brands. The boutique shopping experience is more important to them than jamming into a mass retail environment. Offer special shopping experiences, product category consultants and events in order to make them feel special. Invite them — exclusively — and they will come.

  • How To Sell: Talk to them without making them feel antagonized or ignorant. Emphasize the long-term investment, family fun and reliability of the products you offer. It’s not about a discounted price with this crowd. Be sure to deliver your message and dealership value proposition to their laptop … which is the communications center of their career and leisure activities. “Adventure” has many meanings to many people, but the word is attracting this segment more than any other. Verbally and visually paint the picture of new horizons, new friends, new machines … and you will sell more to this group.

Modern FamilyBoomers And Boomerangs
The oldest postwar babies are now approaching retirement but still have the highest household income. Their single-family homes in suburban areas now include a wage earning child over 25 who has recently returned to the nest. Mainly white and college educated, these customers still have the most earning power, but obviously seem interested in rollcage-covered UTVs instead of their ’70s motorcycles. Some are coming back to motorcycles a second time — thus boomerang — now that more time is available after the child-rearing years are over. Others want to include more family this time around, thus the UTV and trike growth spurts we are seeing. It’s tough to get us inside your store because we don’t shop like we did in the old days, so get creative.

  • How To Sell: Connect with their high profile in Internet, mobile and wireless devices. They are heavily committed to premium channels on TV while also doing as much business as possible online to preserve private time after working crazy-long hours at their jobs. Sell convenience, time saving, personal appointments, value and smiles-per-mile. You gotta love those weekends at the cabin, desert, river or mountains … without spending it fixing and maintaining stuff in the garage.

Jet-Set Urbanites
Child-free, cash rich. They belong to the high end clubs, but don’t like classic shopping experiences, preferring upscale retailers, boutiques and online businesses instead. Your destination dealership is not on their list of places to visit, so you need to go to them or where they go — movie theaters, malls, shows, online experiences. They see themselves as progressive sophisticates who seek the adventuresome path and thus, spend time and money keeping fit and dressing well. Your definition of “adventure” is likely more hardcore than theirs, but paying more for high quality brands is not an issue — in fact, it adds value to the entire experience.

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  • How To Sell: Be online!  Be present where they visit or shop! The industrial business park where your dealership is located is not it. These people are successful, busy and don’t want to veer far from their routine pathways. If you are difficult to visit, reach or deal with, you will become rapidly irrelevant in their lives. On the other hand, they are intrigued with the adventure machines you sell. Most of their livelihood and input comes through men’s magazines and the Internet, so make sure to offer all your products, demonstrations, purchases and programs via an ethernet cable or Wi-Fi enabled device. If your SEO (search engine optimization) is in the toilet (#OEM/model/UTV/motorcycle/etc.), your sales with this segment of customers will also be swirling the bowl because they don’t know you exist. Think Range Rover meets Starbucks and then add some cargo vests, safari chairs and smartphones.

Note: the common denominator to reaching all these groups is to break out of the traditional business model you have used for years. Crazy talk of psychographics notwithstanding, doing business the same old way doesn’t work anymore. The clinical definition of insanity is doing something the same way over and over and expecting a different result. Times have changed. Has your business model?

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These examples are obviously oversimplified and just a taste of who is walking through your front door … or should be walking through your front door. An MIC dealer membership will allow you to gain additional insight into more of the Experian Psychographic Customer Groups in order to become a more effective seller to evolving groups of customers and their shopping habits. Have you been paying attention to the various ways to attract and p-sell to p-sychographically categorized customers? 


The long-running Confessions of a Customer™ is one of columnist Eric Anderson’s commitments to the industry, which includes his retail sales training efforts and service to the MIC Board of Directors. He has built several well-known aftermarket brands and is the founder of Vroom Network, an industry-specific consulting company specializing in marketing, training and brand development.

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