After reading Alex Taylor's story on Harley Davidson for CNN, Harley-Davidson's aging biker problem , I had some other thoughts..
Aside from the aging demographic, I think other factors are also working against HD, partly their desire to grab the entire pot-o-gold quickly rather than incrementally and systematically. Upping production without regard for its financial exposure and the economic forecast certainly seems greedy in hindsight. Since Victory's production numbers are on a much smaller scale than Harley's, that may explain their ability to weather this economic storm without the drastic measures HD has (and will) enacted. While we (Victory owners) innately promote the brand and lament its small market share, in reality that limited market share and the associated cache it produces may be the key to longevity, something Harley seemingly didn't grasp until it was threatened.
Victory can do well to learn from the motorcycle Goliath's mistakes. Admittedly, they took a strategic position some years back that I believe has allowed them to dodge the same demographic bullet, albeit temporarily. By differentiating themselves in the cruiser and touring markets, they are not held slaves to the "traditional motorcycle stylings" that the aging Harley riders revere. Victory has purposefully gone after the nontraditional look, first dipping its toe in the factory-custom design elements with the Vegas (in 2003) and subsequently the Kingpin, Hammer and Jackpot models. It severed all ties to the <i>"what a motorcycle should look like"</i> noose with the Vision (2008). The fresh design not only challenges the standard motorcycle aesthetic, but widens its target demographic to other age groups and tastes.
Polaris, by many accounts, is a "lean" company and this is the foundation for Victory's growth philosophy. "Do More With Less," is a subtext I hear from all tiers of Victory, from upper management to line workers. The mantra is true on many levels, from how much they expend on marketing, to the number of bikes they decide to build. If Victory, continues to grow cautiously and not try to capture the entire market (the pot-o-gold) too quickly, I expect them to not only be a sought-after brand , but build its cache (think Ferrari vs. Buick) and weather future economic storms.
As I eluded to above, Victory's strategic leanness is something Harley once had and is now trying desperately to reattain. Ironically, maybe Harley has something to learn from Victory.