I was watching an interview with Willie Davidson, grandson of the co-founder of Harley-Davidson, earlier this year. The interviewer asked Davidson if the motorcycle maker did any market research to determine more about the wants and needs of their customers….
Willie’s response was perfect; “Oh sure, we stay in constant contact with our customers. We ride with them all the time.”
Who is Willie Davidson? Is he the Chief Styling Officer for Harley-Davidson, or is he a member of the community of proud Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners? Or is he both? Where does the line between the company, and the community exist for Davidson?
Perhaps the better question would be, IS there a line?
By doing something as simple as riding with fellow Harley owners, Willie is leaving the company side of the line, and joining his community. And by doing so, he helps to give Harley owners an even greater sense of pride in their motorcycle, and they share in a sense of ownership for the brand. They are all co-owners of the ‘Harley Lifestyle.’ By becoming a member of the community of Harley owners, Willie is bringing the company and its customers together, and blurring the line that seperates the two.
That should be our goal as marketers, to identify the line where the company stops, and the community starts, and blur that line. Let the company slowly seep into the community, and let the community slowly ooze into the company. Let market research be as enjoyable as a leisurely Sunday ride with friends.
And who knows, if you work at blurring that line long enough, you may find that one day, the line has completely disappeared.