Segway: Innovation and Re-Innovation

Perhaps you have ridden a Segway at some point in time, but it is much more likely you have not. First introduced in 2001, Segway was promoted as the world’s first self-balancing human transport vehicle. The product hype was enormous. People around the world clamored for the product that was supposed to revolutionize transportation, particularly in the last mile. But the hype never came to fruition. What happened?

Industry analysts had originally predicted that the innovative Segway would quickly reach $1 billion in sales. However, by 2007, it had reached only a fraction of that amount and growth appeared to stall out. Why? One key reason was the hefty price tag of $4,950, placing it outside the reach of most consumers. Another reason was that, well, people looked like geeks when riding it. It wasn’t cool, nor was it especially safe. Even then-President Bush was filmed on it while falling. And later, the company owner died while operating a Segway near his home.

This pushed the vehicle into the area of mall cops and tourists. However, in 2015, Chinese company Ninebot bought the company to use in developing other markets and products. Ninebot is a leading manufacturer of today’s electric scooters which are seeing strong acceptance in the marketplace, even as they too face safety issues.

But still, there are problems in the last mile. How do you navigate?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle.
  2. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  3. Poll students: Who knows anything about Segway?
  4. Where is Segway on the PLC? Where are electric scooters?
  5. Show Segway’s Web site: http://www.segway.com/
  6. Show Ninebot’s Segway site: http://uk-en.segway.com/
  7. Ask students what happened to Segway? Why wasn’t the product a hit?
  8. Show video story of Segway: https://youtu.be/U-l4Kf9NUJo
  9. What is the company doing now to re-invent itself? Can it succeed

Source: CNN Business

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