In July 2007, Mark-Hans Richer became Harley-Davidson's first chief marketing officer. Its riders were aging, which the company saw as an existential threat. Although Harley-Davidson had a record sales year in 2006 and had maintained a commanding share of the heavyweight motorcycle market for the previous decade, it needed to take new action to sustain its growth.
Richer needed to deliver a new generation of riders and a more diverse customer base, all without losing current Harley-Davidson customers. He also knew that he could not relax: the average tenure of a CMO in 2007 was only 27 months and a complete new product development cycle would take a minimum of four years.