FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

How Reality TV is Changing an Industry

Reality TV is making its mark on business -- and not just the television industry. Motorcycle expert John Wyckoff argues that reality TV is singlehandedly responsible for the growth in the custom chopper business, which in turn is shaking up the conventional motorcycle industry.

Shows such as The Discovery Channel's American Chopper, which shows customized bikes being built from start to finish (and all the drama in between), are driving interest in custom motorcycles. Granted, the bikes built by these custom shops are extremely expensive -- costing well into the six figures -- and appeal to a niche market. However, this niche market is highly influential (as are all upscale niche markets), redefining what it takes for a motorcycle to be considered "cool" in the marketplace.

Suddenly, upstart bike builders such as Big Dog Motorcycles and American IronHorse are the new must-have brand names, eclipsing established and respected brands like Harley-Davidson. Considering how iconic Harley-Davidson is (classic marketing question: how many of your customers get tattoos of your logo?), this is no small accomplishment. Wyckoff quotes noted bike designer Arlen Ness as saying of Harley, "Now Harley-Davidson is just another bike. They lost their 'cool'."

That's a damning thing to say... and a testament to the disruptive power of reality TV.

Source: Small Business Trends