Farewell to the VCR!


We know the latest and greatest technologies – new product announcements are trumpeted from the hill tops. But what about old stalwarts? Do we even realize when a faithful product line is put out to pasture?

We can now add the loyal video cassette recorder (VCR) to the list of gone, but not-forgotten products. This fall, Funai Corp. of Japan announced that it would stop production of VCRs due to difficultly acquiring needed parts. Funai was the world’s last remaining manufacturer of the VCR. According to the company, only 750,000 units were sold worldwide in 2015, making it uneconomical to continue to source and produce the product.

VCRs were first introduced in the 1950s. The technology wowed the scientific and technology communities, even though it took decades for VCRs to make it into consumer households. The product was so stunning that when it was first launched in the late 1950s, units sold for $50,000 each, and more than 100 orders were placed the week the VCR debuted! Just think of that in today’s dollars, and without any Internet to hype the product!

VCRs started making it to into homes in the 1960, and in the 1970s competition from Sony and JVC propelled it to wide availability. In the 1980s, VCRs cost between $600 and $1,200. By 1982, there were five million units in homes, and that number tripled to 15 million by 1984.

Alas, all products eventually must eventually come to an end. The killer product taking out VCRs was the DVD player. DVD players were released in 1997 and by 2002 DVD sales surpassed video cassettes.

R.I.P. to the VCR. Gone, but not forgotten.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
  3. Next, discuss the VCR and show the video of the first public tape recorder demonstration: https://youtu.be/uNgLs6xjVIs
  4. Another video showing a TV advertisement for the VCR: https://youtu.be/MkzA9mCtJz8 (note to students – no remote control yet!)
  5. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source:  New York Times

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