Aira Service at Target Stores to Help Visually-Impaired Shoppers

At this busy holiday season, consider the (seemingly) simple task of shopping done by an able-bodied consumer. Now consider the same shopping task for someone who has a visual impairment. It must be a much more complex and time-consuming process, and is likely often frustrating waiting for assistance from store employees. After all, not everything can, or should, be done online. For many purchases, shoppers want to feel materials, sniff the freshness of produce, or have more information about the item.

Enter a service from technology company Aira and combine it with Target’s retail stores. Aira connects people who are blind or have impaired vision with highly-trained professionals who help provide visual information on demand via smartphones or wearable devices. The service blends wearables and smart phones with artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Aira’s mission is to make visual information accessible to anyone, anytime, and anywhere.

Target’s accessibility team worked with Aira to deploy a pilot program to 600 Target stores in 13 different markets. Shoppers in those areas can use Aira for free on a smart phone to receive on-demand information while shopping. Shoppers sign on with the Aira app and connect with customer service agents working remotely. The agents use the phone’s camera to guide shoppers through the store and describe items in detail.

The Aira service is also available at more than 40 airports and major public transit systems and college campuses. Not only can Aira agents provide direction and information, they can also read ingredients on boxes, understand color options, and have graphics described.

Now that’s progress.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the consumer buying process.
  2. While the buying process may vary slightly for different products and target markets, the basic 5-step process remains the same: problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior.
  3. How does the process change for visually-impaired consumers?
  4. Show information about Aira: https://aira.io/
  5. Videos are available on the Aira video channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvTWpoo6BVrn2pOFreWQGGw
  6. Information on how to use Aira at Target: https://aira.io/target
  7. How should the Aira services be marketed?

 

 

Source:  Kumar, K. (6 December 2019). Target offers free service for visually impaired shoppers at 600 stores for holidays. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

 

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Peloton’s Holiday Ad: The Peloton Wife

 

It must be the time of year for controversial advertising campaigns. Earlier this month we wrote about South Dakota’s “Meth. I’m on it.” campaign, which provoked many people to post their reactions on social media. The “Meth. I’m on it.” campaign was designed to focus attention on combatting the prevalence of meth in South Dakota and starting conversations about the problems of meth addiction.b

But now, with a seemingly straightforward advertising campaign, Peloton has entered the social media collective consciousness and has generated a lot of negative buzz. The company’s new holiday campaign features a woman receiving a Peloton bike for Christmas, and chronicles her experience over the next year.

At first glance, the ad shows a lovely holiday scene of a husband giving his wife an exercise bike for Christmas. However, viewers quickly made their negative opinions known on social media, criticizing the company for being sexist as well as being elitist. The wife is thin and attractive; the house looks large and luxurious. (A Peloton bike is priced at $2,245, plus a monthly video subscription for interactive classes at an additional $39/month.)

Peloton has stated it stands by the ad and that it hears regularly from customers about how the bike has changed their lives for the better. The actors also stated that the commercial was a very positive experience, despite the pushback from social media. So why the criticism? And what should happen when a company offends people?

One company that quickly followed up on the controversy was Aviation Gin, owned by actor Ryan Reynolds. The same actress was cast in a humorous commercial that seemed to show her a little shell-shocked after the first commercial and in need of a little relaxation.

What’s your opinion?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of developing a clear, concise message for marketing programs.
  2. Show the Peloton Website: https://www.onepeloton.com/
  3. Show the original ‘peloton Wife’ video: https://youtu.be/pShKu2icEYw
  4. What are the students’ opinions? Have the students use their phones and devices to search for commentary about the campaign online.
  5. Next, show the same actress in the Aviation Gin commercial: https://youtu.be/H2t7lknrK28
  6. What are student’s opinions about this ad and message?
  7. How does this ad play off the original ad?

Source:  Advertising Week; Bloomberg News; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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South Dakota’s Unusual Anti-drug Campaign

Provocative marketing campaigns can be risky and backfire on the sender. And then other times, the campaign can hit a chord and start a broader conversation about the topic. Which of these are the case for the new South Dakota campaign against methamphetamine?

The ‘Meth. I’m on it.’ campaign was designed to focus attention on combatting the prevalence of meth in South Dakota. According to reports, meth abuse accounted for roughly 83% of court admissions for controlled substance cases in 2019 in South Dakota. The state saw a 200% increase in people seeking treatment for meth addition from 2014 to 2018. The campaign’s main call to action is to encourage everyone in the state to work together on combatting meth and its effect on the population.

But of course, the campaign generated conversation and controversy on social media outlets as viewers weighed in on the message. Many people were concerned, confused, and outright dismissive of the campaign. But the South Dakota governor replied that the “whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness.” They wanted to set a tone that would make people stop and pay attention. The campaign is also part of a broader effort to rethink offenses and increase treatments. The key point from the campaign that is that everyone is affected by meth.

What’s your opinion?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of developing a clear, concise message for marketing programs.
  2. Use a pyramid model to build the key messages: Top of pyramid – most important message that the customer wants to hear. Middle of pyramid – how the product achieves its value for the customer. Bottom of pyramid – proof points used to validate claims.
  3. Show a video of the ‘Meth. We’re on it.’ Campaign: https://youtu.be/7LVcI-DQdYA
  4. There are also plenty of news commentary videos available to discuss the campaign from a search on YouTube: https://youtu.be/0blILDdvHSw
  5. What are the students’ opinions? Have the students use their phones and devices to search for commentary about the campaign online.
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a key message pyramid around a social or health topic. Can they take a risk but make their point?
  7. Have each team present their topic and message. What’s the opinion of the class about these?

Source:  Advertising Week; Bloomberg News; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

 

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