At a press conference late Monday, the CEO of Johnson Marine, makers of Johnson outboard marine engines and other recreational equipment, unveiled a new line of heavyweight cruiser style motorcycles designed to compete head to head with industry leader Harley-Davidson.
Peter Long, Johnson brands marketing manager said, "We have studied the market and determined that Harley, while highly successful, has narrowly missed the mark when targeting motorcycle buyers". Long added, "We at Johnson are convinced that our product hits the target dead center and promises to draw sales away from Harley-Davidson in a way no other motorcycle has been able to accomplish".
The new line of bikes, marketed under the name Big Johnson Motorcycles, will, according to Long, deliver what Harley has only promised. "Our research shows that this, a Big Johnson, is what Harley buyers are really after".
At the unveiling of the new line Monday, several current Harley owners agreed. "When I bought my Harley, what I really needed was a Big Johnson," said one Harley owner." But I see now that riding a Harley is no replacement for having a Big Johnson."
Manager Long also said that his company would follow the lead of Harley-Davidson and cash in on a huge market for non-motorcycle related products. "We realize that not every guy can have a Big Johnson," said Long, "But image is very important to people. If they don't have a Big Johnson, they at least want to project the image of having one."
Asked if he anticipated Big Johnsons showing up in the hands of Harley owners, Long said it was unlikely. "I just don't see the need to have a Harley if you have a Big Johnson," he said. "And I can't imagine someone who spends all their resources to acquire a Harley having a Big Johnson. I think it boils down to this - You either have a Harley, or you have a Big Johnson, but you are not likely to have both." "Given the choice," said Long, "I think most guys will opt for the Big Johnson."
Another force driving sales for the company will come from women. A survey of the wives and girlfriends of nearly 1,000 potential motorcycle buyers indicates less than 5% would approve of their partner spending $15,000 on a Harley Davidson. But, when asked if they would be willing to pay the same amount of money to get their partner a Big Johnson, nearly 4 out 5 thought that would be money well spent.
One female present at the product unveiling was quoted as saying, "There is no way I will let Lonnie drop 15 grand on another one of those Harleys, but 15 grand to get him a Big Johnson? Well, that's something we could both enjoy, and it's something he really needs."
Carla Roundheel, manager of the dealership network now being established, said her motto is simple. "I service what we sell." Big Johnson Motorcycles will be traded on the New York stock exchange under the abbreviation PNSNV.