SAP Innovation Challenge: Harley Davidson


SAP had sent out a company wide competition for ideas to help fulfill Harley Davidson’s goal: 2 million new customers in 2 years. An aggressive goal, especially for a brand with a very specific, loyal base. This competition offered 3 categories to win under, Customer Acquisition, Community and Brand, and Open Innovation. I knew going in that my targeted category would have to be chosen after researching Harley.

When I had seen this competition, I had offered to start this and welcome anyone who wanted to take part as a group with me. I was happy to see a small group come together, consisting of mobile native developers, web developers, and Product Managers. Most were clear they were available to brainstorm and review and a few more fell out over the course of the journey. Acting as lead product manager and the only designer, I facilitated weekly meetings and reviews to carry this project to it’s conclusion with everyone interested.

Our team was entirely composed of Upscale Commerce members and we knew we wanted our entry to highlight the product we were so proudly building. We fashioned our solutions around what our product was already capable of as well as what we were hoping to see from it.  

Research & Planning

Our first step was research. We had to know Harley’s fan base, where their company had strengths and weaknesses, and what they currently had available to the market. We started with their current offerings which came to a website and a couple apps. Although the website had commerce available for minor accessories like a couple hats, a piggy bank, and some shoes, they never provided a market for much that was an accessory to their motorcycles. The apps offered no retail at all, and mostly just offered store locator abilities. We made the assumption these choices partly were due to their current market which tended to be less favorable to technology.

In researching, we had found that Harley Davidson’s base was primarily men above the age of 35 with a median age of 47. The median age of their base was aging, while the base of their young customers declined.

We were restricted to online resources and forums to hear the opinions of Harley fans. A few of my personal friends are on the nose in their primary demographic, and backed up a lot of what we found online when searching to find their voice. Existing Harley fans didn’t want anything to change about Harley, they loved it as it was. They bought the shirts and jackets, put logo medallions on their walls, and proudly kept their bike in sight. Most felt they had everything they needed in the way they were most comfortable, because technology like smart phones and apps weren’t comfortable to a lot of them.

Younger bikers sat almost completely at odds with this opinion. They often cited that they felt Harley Davidson’s brand was outdated, their bikes were noisy and terrible for the environment, and that everything they had to offer was old. They wanted to see innovation and change but strangely enough, none had heard that Harley had introduced a new electric bike. If these younger bikers could see themselves being a part of Harley, they wanted it to change first. So we needed to find a way to provide the authentic Harley experience, in a modern and welcoming way.  

The Gameplan

Our team met several times over the course of a couple weeks to share research and brainstorm ideas. We agreed we wanted to make a mobile experience that would engage lifelong bikers and entice those new to the fields. In order to do that, we wanted to bring in commerce to provide a base purpose to this app, for both merchants and consumers. They could market small or large item purchases between shipping and pick up in store features. To double down on it’s worth, we added a bike and part comparison to contribute a value to using the app to maintain your bike.

A product manager on the team was passionate about the idea of pop up events to showcase their new bike, to spread awareness and showcase the beginning of new line. So we added location based services, event registration, and pick up features as well to help marry the external events to the technological ones.

Wanting to leverage personalization features we have at Upscale, we added two AI driven components: Tailored Categories and Tailored Sets. Tailored Category components would collect information on shopping trends in neighborhoods and then show those popular categories to the relevant user. Tailored Sets would work under a similar idea, yet they instead married the individual’s shopping patterns and profitability for the merchant to offer the best products.

Final Delivery

Since we were largely functioning at a conceptual level, wireframing went quickly since we didn’t need to map out every service needed. This allowed me to move quickly into the branding and final mocks. I knew the heart of their look and feel had to be the classic Harley that traditional riders loved but it had to communicate the modern and elegance that they had been missing. I carefully selected cleaner fonts with higher levels of accessibility and brought more light into their traditionally all black and orange palette. I mapped out a lot of animations and microinteractions to strengthen a contemporary feel without losing unfamiliar audiences with heavy gestures.

In order finalize our submission we wrote a document to summarize the root of the problem Harley Davidson was fighting. How updating their online presence with purposeful features would help bring to light their product level innovations and the ways in which our group leveraged a mobile native app to do so. To accompany this, I made a prototype and edited it into an informative video with the help of the product manager on the team. I had felt passionately about this piece because it would be the largest step outside of their established space and for that reason I needed every animation and interaction to sing. Static mocks would simply fall short.

Our hard work paid off and we ended up winning the category of Customer Acquisition. It was an outstanding experience full of teamwork and passion.