Monday, January 19, 2009

Internet trends look good for Royal Enfield

No, I don't understand statistics. But I recognize a fun new Internet toy when I see one. Playing around with Google's new Google Trends unfailingly produces results that look good for worldwide interest in Royal Enfield motorcycles. Take a look at this chart comparing worldwide results for Royal Enfield to results for Harley-Davidson over the last 12 months.

What the heck? Does this really show Royal Enfield remaining fairly steady as Harley-Davidson declines? It sure does. How can that be? Well, first consider the points marked on the graph by A, B, C and D. These mark the appearance of significant news stories about Royal Enfield. Here they are:

A. Dan Holmes' Bonneville Attack, March 27, 2008.
B. Royal Enfield to offer 4 new models, June 18, 2008.
C. Royal Enfield to revise prices, Aug. 25, 2008.
D. Royal Enfield introduces Bullet Classic, Oct. 8, 2008.

Those are pretty significant news stories and they must have buoyed interest in Royal Enfield. But in what sense is Royal Enfield pulling ahead of Harley-Davidson? Surely not in total Google searches! Here's what Google says it shows:

"Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time... The numbers you see on the y-axis of the Search Volume Index ... aren't absolute search traffic numbers. Instead, Trends scales the first term you've entered so that its average search traffic in the chosen time period is 1.0; subsequent terms are then scaled relative to the first term."

So, I guess, people around the world are continuing to search for "Royal Enfield" while fewer than usual are searching for "Harley-Davidson." But that's worldwide. Harley-Davidson is a powerhouse in the United States, while Royal Enfield is relatively insignificant. What if we look at Google Trends for the last 12 months, but for the United States only?

Well, look at that! Even in the United States, Royal Enfield is holding steady while Harley, although of far more interest in general, is falling from the mountaintop. Do you believe it? Well, let's trying comparing the terms "sunglasses" and "scarf" and not for 12 months but for all the years data is available:
Isn't that pretty! It shows that, in general, interest in sunglasses goes up in the summer, down in the winter, while interest in scarves goes up in the winter and down in the summer. The chart above is just for the United States, by the way; it isn't affected by the fact that seasons are reversed south of the Equator.

Like sunglasses and scarves, motorcycles are seasonal products. Is the recent seeming downturn in interest in Harley-Davidson just the fall-winter decline motorcycles experience every year? Yes, it is. But take a look at the chart below, which shows results for all years in the United States. Harley-Davidson bounces up and down with the seasons but steadily edges lower while Royal-Enfield holds steady.

What does it all mean? Again, I don't understand statistics. But I wonder if what we see here is evidence that plenty of people are still interested in Royal Enfield motorcycles, while, more and more, people who were interested in Harley-Davidson have scratched that itch.

Just for fun, here is the Google Trends take on interest in Barak Obama in the United States. The 2004 spike would be the speech he gave at the Democratic Convention that year. It's not hard to see election day!

The guy really came out of nowhere. Thanks to my daughter Anna for alerting me to Google Trends. It's a lot of fun.


  1. Anonymous1/19/2009

    That is very cool. It's fun to imagine the drivers behind these statistics. Does this mean, perhaps, that typical Royal Enfield riders, while fewer in number, are more impervious to inclement weather?

  2. It does look that way, doesn't it? Enfield interest responds to the seasons, but not to the degree Harley-Davidson does. Maybe (a guess) Harley riders put their bikes away for the winter and forget them. Royal Enfield riders see winters as an opportunity for yet more maintenance!

  3. Very interesting. I was wondering if that movie featuring a royal Enfield that just came out would have caused more Enfield related searches.

    Also, I would assume the Harley decline is related to the economy. Apparently Harley fans see their bikes as fat that can be trimmed come crisis, while Enfield fans see their bikes as...well, you tell me.

  4. Family members? When I get time I'll try to read up on these Google trends. Got to keep in mind that we are seeing evidence of interest here, not necessarily any reflection on ownership. It could be that Harley is perfectly well known (as it should be by now in the U.S.) and that other sources of information exist. Want to know what's available? You likely have a Harley dealership right in town. Not so likely for Royal Enfield: you have to go online to find out.

  5. Anonymous1/22/2009

    "Royal Enfield riders see winters as an opportunity for yet more maintenance!"

    Well, good news on that front. The dealer and I have come to the conclusion that I have a bad coil that works when cold, but not after the engine warms up--seems so obvious, but it's amazing the various paths trouble shooting can sometimes take you. Anyway that explains the nice long test ride I had when it was 12 degrees (F)

  6. Anonymous1/30/2009

    Royal Enfield sales are up for 2008 in some cases as much as 30%. The factory is running at full capacity and is expanding while others are contracting. I hate to jinx the trend, but in December and January we out sold the same two months the previous year. In a very down economy we are very pleased. I think a lot of this has to do with the low price and high value that the Royal Enfield provides. Our new line of Bullets sets a new benchmark for reliability and economy and we are hoping this trend will continue.


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