Reports from both the Motorcycle Industry Council and J.D. Power confirm what all of us already know: the Internet now influences new motorcycle purchase decisions to a greater degree than print magazines.
According to the J.D. Power 2008 Motorcycle Escaped Shopper Study, "A
vast majority of customers (81%) report having used the Internet to
research motorcycles when shopping, 73 percent say they read magazine
reviews, and 28 percent say they attended a trade show or motorcycle
event, according to the study. Seventy-eight percent of motorcycle
buyers indicated they contacted or visited a dealership for information
Preliminary data* from the Motorcycle Industry Council Owner Survey,
displayed above, also indicates that the Internet is now more
influential than print magazines, ranking it in fourth place in
influence, above "Magazine Articles." As indicated by the data in that
survey, the Internet has risen from sixth place in 2003. Among female
buyers, the Survey finds that the Internet is the fifth most
influential source, again above magazines.
Also of note is the aging demographic predicament the motorcycle
industry now finds itself in. According to the J.D. Power report, 2008 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study, "the industry continues to
struggle with attracting younger, first-time motorcycle buyers. Since
2001, the average age of motorcycle owners has increased from 40 to 47
years. This indicates that the current population of motorcycle buyers
is aging, and a large proportion of these owners are likely to soon
exit the market. Because first-time motorcycle buyers comprise 22
percent of all new motorcycle purchases--a figure has remained
relatively flat since 2001--it is critical for manufacturers to focus on
attracting first-time and younger buyers--primarily those in the Gen X
and Y demographics--in order to ensure continued growth in this market."
*Results from the 2008 MIC Owner Survey are preliminary, covering the first nine months of 2008 only. Full data will be available in March, 2009.