Author Archives: swhartley

Direct-to-Consumer Air Conditioner

It’s summer (finally)! People are leaving their houses and enjoying the warmer weather. Well, not everyone enjoys summer heat – many older apartments and houses lack central air conditioning and depend either on fans or in-window air conditioners. While many home technology devices are sleek looking and high-tech, the lowly room air conditioner has remained unchanged for decades, retaining its distinct lack of style.

July air conditioners aims to change that. The new direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand takes a fresh look at the design of in-window units and is positioning itself as a design item in addition to being an effective appliance. It’s struck a nerve with consumers; within the first five days of announcing a wait list for the product, there were more than 3,000 people waiting in (virtual) line. Early ordering also lowers the cost of the units by 25% and guarantees a summer delivery.

There are two units of power: 6,000 BTUs (cools up to 250 sq. ft.) is $349 and 8,000 BTUs (cools up to 350 sq. ft.) is $399. The unit is square, sleek and uses a simple installation process. The customer first inserts a frame to lock in the window, then slides in the unit until it clicks into place. The front of the unit is a solid panel that comes in white, light blue, gray, and ash wood that consumers can switch out and customize to match their decor. July can be controlled via WiFi and scheduled to turn on at a desired time as well as controlled with voice commands.

Ready for summer?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Show July: https://july.ac/
  3. For the July Air Conditioner product, who is the target market?
  4. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for July. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  5. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  6. July is a DTC brand – meaning it is not sold in stores. What are the considerations for this brand as it works to reach prospective customers?
  7. How is July positioning its products compared to the standard in-window air conditioners?

Source: Ad Week; Fast Company; Gear Patrol

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What does Gen Z Want from Brands Right Now?

“May you live in interesting times.” Is this a blessing or a curse? On the one hand, “interesting times” are full of action and movement (fun!), and of course some drama (not fun). On the other hand, “interesting times” means that we are not bored with a daily routine and our eyes are opened to different situations (fun and not fun).

This year is certainly a year of interesting times with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc in the world. Businesses closed, schools closed, no graduations, proms, or commencement ceremonies, and the daily worry about contracting Covid-19. Now add the social upheaval about policing, riots, and confronting racism, and our stress levels ratchets up to a very high level!

What do consumers want to hear from companies and brands right now? And, specifically, what does Generation Z want to hear? A recent survey of younger consumers aged 13 – 25 revealed that these young people want to see brands make a difference and explain how they are protecting employees, as well as protecting consumers. Here are some of the findings about the type of communications and contents that Gen Z wants:

  • 88% – Brands should be communicating about Covid-19.
  • 59% – Want information about how brands are keeping employees safe and financially protected.
  • 47% – Want positive and uplifting stories.
  • 55% – Want information about how brands are helping local communities.
  • 48% – Want resources to help consumers like accessing mental and health support.
  • 59% – Brands should donate profits from consumer purchases to relief efforts.

Basically, Gen Z wants to see authentic and sincere statements. Gen Z wants to see that the brands they buy are working to give back to local communities.

What messages are important to you?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about a brand’s responsibility to the consumers in today’s environment?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team identify three messages that they would like to see from a brand. Consider giving each team a different brand to focus on for the messages.
  3. Put the messages together and compare the results of each group.
  4. Show the research infographic: https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/infographic-what-gen-z-wants-to-see-from-brands-during-a-pandemic/?utm_content=adoftheday&utm_source=postup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=FirstThingsFirst_Newsletter_200615054639&lyt_id=194931
  5. How closely does this match the students’ concerns?

Source: Ad Week

 

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Should Marketing Mention the Coronavirus?

Let’s face it – marketers are always on the lookout for new opportunities to sell products and services to consumers. This is true in bad times as in good. However, marketers must also be sensitive to what is happening in consumers’ lives and in the general marketplace. It is not wise (or ethical) to take advantage of someone’s suffering or fear in order to make a sale.

It can be tough though. Retail sales have been declining since March and had their largest drop in April as employees worked from home and stores and restaurants were shuttered. Shopping has also shifted from brick-and-mortar stores to online and ecommerce. People are nervous and anxious about their current situation, and about their future. They are also isolated at home and crave human connection. What should a marketer do?

This brings us back to basics: focus on the target market. What is the message the customers want to hear, need to hear, and will respond to positively? Messages should be calm and positive, not scaring to consumers. Stay with the basics of marketing principles: understand the customer, stay connected, alter the tone of messages, stick to the facts, and listen.

Stay connected with consumers. Be honest. Be safe.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about marketers’ responsibility in times of crisis?
  2. Specifically for the coronavirus pandemic, should companies promote their goods and services by using a painful situation to their advantage?
  3. Show a video about marketing during crisis: https://youtu.be/vmEJZ08rBoM
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team research how various companies are addressing the coronavirus pandemic in their advertising and marketing. (Suggestions: Nike, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Tide, etc.)
  5. What is being done correctly? What should be changed?
  6. In teams, assign a product to the teams and have the students develop a marketing campaign that uses the pandemic in a way that shows a value to consumers.

Source: Ad Week; New York Times; other news sources

 

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