Monthly Archives: December 2017

Tech’s Successes and Failures

Don’t get me wrong – success is great. It’s certainly a lot better than failing. Yet, not every new product meets with success. Sometimes, there are massive flame-outs as a hotly anticipated new product fails to achieve market success. It’s the wise marketer who examines the failures and identifies where it all went wrong.

Technology is one of the most visible industries for both success and failure. Consider the Apple Newton: Failure. Compared to the Apple iPhone: Success. And, technology that seems a sure bet to be quickly adopted takes years, even decades to reach fruition. Consider: Artificial Intelligence.

Some of this year’s failures were massive missteps. Probably one of the scariest and widest reaching failure has to do with cyber security. No one’s personal data seems safe from hackers, and companies that consumers depend on to keep their private information safe have failed. Consider: Equifax. Consumer information including social security numbers and driver’s license data for 145 million Americans was hacked and has caused headaches that could reoccur for years into the future.

On the product side, consider: Juicero. The start-up company raised $120 million from investors but closed its doors this fall. This one isn’t too hard to figure out – Juicero sold a juicer for $700 that could only press produce that came packaged in its own proprietary bags. And, the juicer took longer than someone squeezing the bags by hand.

But successes still abound. Consider these products that achieved market acceptance and gain rave reviews and sales: Apple Watch 3, Nintendo Switch, smart home products, and virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri.

The line between success and failure is slim, but it can be seen, and oftentimes can be fixed.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the factors that most impact success and failure for new products and services.
  2. Poll students: What products or services do they think were successes this year? Failures? Why these products?
  3. Show Juicero:
  4. Show the Apple Watch:
  5. Show Nintendo Switch:
  6. What is it that makes these products successful or not? What should marketers do?

Source:  Chen, B. (2017, Dec. 13). The biggest tech failures and successes of 2017. New York Time.

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Kellogg Buys RXBAR

Consumer taste trends are moving to healthy and natural foods.  Nutrition and energy bars are a still-growing industry segment that is particularly appealing to Millennials. Yet, many of the older, established CPG firms struggle to attract and retain sales from that market segment. What should a company do? While it can certainly develop new products, market adoption of the new products can take valuable time and development itself takes resources and money away from a company’s established products.

A fast way to enter a new market with a new product is through acquisition. Kellogg recently took just this approach and acquired the very trendy RXBAR nutrition bar brand for a cool $600 million. The four-year old company currently has built its sales up to about $120 million and has added a children’s bar line, also.

RXBAR is known for a “no B.S.” innovative spirit. The brand highlights its commitment to whole food, protein bars that contain simple ingredients. The bars are gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free, tapping into a growing food product segment. RXBAR has a distinctive package that clearly states ingredients on the front of each package. For example: “3 Egg Whites, 5 Almonds, 4 Cashews, 2 Dates, No B.S.”

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

    1. Discuss the four primary marketing strategies: market penetration, market development, product development, and diversification.
    2. Show RXBAR Web site:
    3. Video about the company story:
    4. Which strategy did RXBAR use?
    5. Which strategy is Kellogg using?
    6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select one of the four different strategies and explain why that strategy could be used to market RXBAR.
    7. Have each team determine the marketing mix (4Ps) to support their strategy choice.
    8. Debrief the exercise.

Source: Buss, D. (2017, Oct. 9). Kellogg looks to “no B.S.” RXBAR for growth and inspiration.

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Red Bull: Let’s Jump INTO a Moving Plane!

Everyone knows someone who has jumped (with a parachute, or perhaps a wingsuit) out of a flying plane. No big deal. Happens all the time. But have you ever considered someone parachuting INTO a flying plane? Probably not. It would be totally insane. Who would even think of such an insane stunt? Who would sponsor it?

To answer those questions, enter Red Bull energy drink teamed with Soul Flyers from France. The two Soul Flyer aerialists BASE jumped from the top of a 13,000-foot mountain in the Swiss Alps and guided their flying wingsuits into the cabin of a flying plane. Flying at about 80 miles per hour, the flyers maneuvered themselves successfully into a five-foot by four-foot cargo hold door! (However, it did take a number of attempts to complete the stunt.)

The video and stunt are so crazy that they beg to be shared – and considered for their value to marketing. Red Bull is hardly a new product. It is not the only energy drink in a crowded marketplace and it is in the mature stage of the product life cycle. So, how does Red Bull keep the attention of the consumer and promote its brand message? Stunts. Red Bull seems to specialize in crazy, high-energy, athletic stunts that capture the consumers’ attention.

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. Where are energy drinks in the product life cycle? Why?
  4. Discuss some of the stunts done by Red Bull to gain the consumer’s attention.
  5. Show the video:
  6. The story of the jump can be found at:
  7. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services so that they can either move into an earlier stage of the life cycle or prolong the stage they are currently in.

Source:  Red Bull

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