At 115 years old, Harley-Davidson knows a thing or two about adapting to rapid change and shifting customer expectations. Inspired by the innovative and fearless approach of their founders, Harley-Davidson is preparing for the future in new and resourceful ways that are as authentic as their customers.

Heather Malenshek, SVP of marketing and brand at Harley-Davidson, joined us for our latest Leading Edge webcast created in collaboration with ISV partner Propel.

Do your research

When Malenshek first joined Harley-Davidson in 2014, she began in the research space, working with consumers who weren’t close to the brand. What she found was a deep love for and understanding of what the brand represents worldwide. But despite the brand’s reputation, it still needed a way to advance its mission of “building the next generation of riders globally.”

Today, Malenshek is drawing on this research to ready the brand so it can transform and reach new markets. The image of “the Harley rider” has changed greatly in the last 20 years alone, and younger generations don’t have the familiarity with bikes and motorsports that their parents and grandparents did. But Malenshek doesn’t buy into the approach that targeting one market will neglect another, especially in a company that is so customer-led. In working directly with dealers and the current customer base, Harley-Davidson believes in inviting new generations in and talking about the brand in a fresh new way.

“Manufacturers, like Harley-Davidson, that truly engage with their customers throughout the entire product lifecycle can successfully navigate today’s digital challenges,” says Miguel Tam, VP of Marketing at Propel.”

Blazing new trails with the customer in mind

With four years under her belt at Harley-Davidson, Malenshek is still learning and challenging herself, especially as the company engages with new markets and seeks to convert new riders. From the company’s partnership with Amazon to introducing new products like the electric Livewire motorcycle next year, Malenshek prioritizes using technology to enhance customer experiences instead of just flashing something “shiny and new.”

“Technology is there to be an enabler. We’re very focused on what the customer’s needs are, not just today, but in the future. As we think about technology, it’s about asking ‘how is this going to help make the customer experience better?’”


Watch the complete episode to see why Harley-Davidson is primed to blaze new trails in the digital age.

This episode is part of Salesforce’s trailblazing women series. Stream Leading Edge, a webcast series on Salesforce Live