Monthly Archives: March 2016

No Employees needed at this Store


Like many small towns around the world, the small Swedish town of Viken (population 4,227) closes up shop early. But this makes it hard for the local residents to make late night runs to the supermarket for items that are needed immediately. The nearest larger town is 20 – 30 minutes away, making it difficult for residents to quickly purchase items that are needed to solve routine problems such as the need for milk, bread, snacks, diapers, formula, and more.

To solve this problem, a store owner created a store that is not manned by employees. Yes, that’s right, zero employees. So how does someone shop at the store?

In Sweden, shoppers can use a smartphone banking app called BankID. The app lets them enter the store, then the phone is used to scan the items, and at the end of the month, the customers receive a bill. To deter any potential shoplifters, there are six security cameras monitoring the store shelves. Bad credit? The door will not open for you. In two months of operation there have been no problems or theft. The biggest problem is encouraging older residents to adopt the new technology.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss how consumers shop later at night. What are the barriers?
  2. Show the video of the Swedish store:

  1. Next, show a video from a company called ShelfX that has a similar payment system:
  2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using these systems.
  3. Have students brainstorm how and where this system could be installed in their home towns or on the college campus.

Source: Tech Insider, Associated Press, other news sources

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Playing with Glue


Look around. How many things are broken, or close to breaking? How many different glues or tapes to you have on hand to fix these problems? (Or will you just trash and replace the broken products?) What if there was a glue that could fix virtually everything that breaks – ceramic, wood, glass, metal, wire cables, and even create new uses for products along with creating a prosthetic chicken leg?

Sounds pretty unbelievable, but the product is real and it’s called Sugru – a moldable glue (looks similar to Play-Doh) that can be shaped into virtually anything. Once in place, Sugru dries to a silicone type of rubbery finish. Easy to use, and easy to grip.

Sugru was developed by an Irish entrepreneur as part of a project while in college working on degrees in fine arts and product design. It was not an overnight success though. While the product was immediately well-received, it took a number of years to get investments, and to survive a recession. However, in 2009, Sugru launched on social media by sending samples to technology bloggers. The result: It went viral. When the company introduced its Web site in 2009, all 1,000 packages sold out within six hours and another 2,000 were placed on backorder. This year, sales are expected to exceed $10 million.

Check it out. Need anything glued? (BTW – the prosthetic chicken leg is real.)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is broken in their lives that needs to be fixed? How do they mend these items?
  1. Show students the Web site:

  1. There are additional videos posted by users of the product on Sugru’s YouTube channel:
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team brainstorm on new uses for Sugru.
  3. Discuss the product life cycle. Place standard glues and tapes on the PLC. Now, place Sugru on the PLC. What did the company do to reposition its product?
  4. Discuss positioning (perceptual) maps. Have teams place glues and tapes onto a perceptual map.
  5. Have students work in teams to determine the target market for Sugru.

Source: New York Times

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Snack Attack!


The economics of eating are changing, and so are snack foods. Today, snacking is a global industry worth $374 billion and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down soon. Snacking also appeals to all age groups. While Millennials crave healthy, easy to eat foods and snacks, it’s the Baby Boomers who consume the largest amount of snacks.

Indeed, roughly 45% of U.S. consumers stated that they are replacing one or meals each day with snacks instead of a full menu. And, American workers now take one-third more snacks to work than they did even two years ago.

These trends have a significant impact on the packaged food industry. Case in point: snacks accounted for 20% of Kellogg’s revenue in 2000, but by 2015 snacks accounted for 50% of the company’s revenue. In the industry, the largest growing segment is health and energy bars with 87% increase over the past five years. Even jerky has transitioned into new, healthier snacks and has grown 12% to a $2.8 billion industry.

What’s in your backpack?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Before discussing this case, ask students what was the last full meal they ate? Then, ask about snacking habits. (Have students dig into their backpacks and bags and pull out any snacks.)
  2. Show the CBS video about snacking:
  3. Discuss where foods fit on the product life cycle. How are snacks repositioning foods on the product life cycle?
  4. Show a few Web sites for companies that produce jerky:

Krave Jerky:

Think Jerky:

Health Jerky Co:

  1. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a traditional food and reimagine it into a snacking product.

Source: CBS News

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