It's been a little over a week since Polaris announced its acquisition of Indian Motorcycles and owners of this iconic bike are still buzzing about it. In my informal survey of Indian enthusiast websites, the temperament was one of hot & cold. Well, mostly cold. Owners fear that their beloved company, albeit famous and iconic, would be swallowed up in corporate smoke, or worse yet, shuttered in boardroom dealings to stifle competition with Polaris' own Victory Motorcycles. Owners' rants predicted an end to the brand as they knew it, and the birth of a "big box" bike from the new kids on the block. I chalk that up to people not really knowing Polaris.
Today, as if Polaris foresaw the panic, they set up a online survey for Indian owners to get their input on what makes an Indian an Indian. The poll url has been distributed through online Indian communities (similar to our websites). Remarkably, post-survey comments from Indian owners have been upbeat and enthusiastic. While the results of the poll are confidential, just as past surveys by Victory, we can tell you that Polaris wants to confirm (and most likely already knows) the features (styling, engine & drivetrain design, etc) that owners identify as uniquely Indian and whether they are critical or generic to the brand. Basically, Polaris is checking its homework and wants to proceed in managing, producing, and expanding the Indian brand but without being construed with Victory.
In the months leading up to July 1998, Polaris didn't just decide,"Lets' enter the motorcycle market." The decision was based on several years of research and then several more on R&D. They identified a niche and used their formidable manufacturing & distribution chops to get it right. Since then, they've refined their developement and manufacturing knowledge to produce very high quality, icon-designed bikes and high owner satisfaction. When it comes to seeing an opportunity and 'reading' its customers, Polaris "gets it."