Polaris CEO says its motorcycle sales could get boost from Harley ads

Sales of Indian Motorcycles up in Q1

The maker of one of Harley-Davidson’s rising competitors has taken notice as the company launched the “Live Your Legend” advertising campaign, part of a $70 million increase in marketing and product development spending for 2016.

Indian motorcycle shutterstock
In the first quarter of 2016, Polaris reported a 50 percent revenue increase for Indian Motorcycles from the previous year.

“We do think that with the increased advertising and promotion there’s a chance that there’s going to be a tailwind for the industry and we expect to benefit from that” said Scott Wine, Polaris Industries chief executive officer. “Nice when somebody else pays for your advertising.”

A central part of Harley’s growth strategy is to increase the number of motorcycle riders through additional marketing to consumers. The Milwaukee-based company announced the new initiative last year after increased competition led to lower sales and a loss of market share.

Minnesota-based Polaris makes Victory and Indian motorcycles, relaunching the latter in 2013 after acquiring it a few years earlier. Indian has begun to catch on in the marketplace, picking up market share in both the heavy and midsize motorcycle segments for five straight quarters, according to Polaris executives.

In the first quarter of 2016, Polaris reported a 50 percent revenue increase for Indian from the previous year. The specific Indian revenue figure was not reported. The company’s motorcycle segment, which includes Victory and the three-wheeled Slingshot, reported $188.2 million in revenue, an 18 percent increase.

Harley, by contrast, reported $1.3 billion in revenue from motorcycles alone, up 5 percent from the previous year. Sales were down slightly in the United States, but up internationally. The company has said it hopes to increase its shipments by between 1 and 3 percent for the year.

Wine noted that the motorcycle industry is extremely dependent on the weather and economy and said Polaris is “encouraged by where we are in motorcycles right now.”

“We’re not expecting a dramatic increase in the market,” he said. “We expect to slog it out.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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