Was The Force with You? Columbia’s Star Wars Jackets

The newest movie in the Star Wars franchise is now in theaters and fans can’t get enough of the series of popular movies, or the Star Wars’- related products. The products are flying off the shelves as if they were under control of The Force. We are particularly sad to report that Columbia’s exclusive Star Wars-themed Echo Base outerwear collection sold out within minutes after its release! (Cross that one off your Christmas shopping list.)

Columbia released three jackets based on those worn by Luke, Leia, and Han while on the icy planet of Hoth. Luke’s jacket was designed to be “warmer than a tauntaun.” Han’s jacket reminds us to “Never tell me the odds.” And with Leia’s jacket, “May the force be with you.”

The company made only 1,980 coats (Get it? 1980 was the year of The Empire Strikes Back release) and they sold out online almost immediately, with very few left in stores. According to Columbia, the Luke jacket sold out in 5 minutes 22 seconds; the Han parka in 6 minutes 23 seconds; and the Leia jacket in 7 minutes 05 seconds. Not quite hyper-drive speed, but pretty darn fast nonetheless.

Columbia said the jackets were “built to withstand freezing temperatures on Hoth or other galaxies closer to home.” Unfortunately for fans, there are no plans to create more jackets.

Never underestimate the power of The Force, or a limited release.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the power of entertainment for marketing products.
  2. Poll students. What products related to movies or shows can they recall? Have they bought any of these?
  3. Show Columbia’s Star Wars-themed site: https://www.columbia.com/starwars/
  4. Discuss why the product sold out so quickly? Who was the target market? What role did exclusivity play in the sales?
  5. Should Columbia make more of the jackets?

Source:  Griner, D. (2017, Dec. 8). Columbia created a line of Empire Strikes Back’ jackets and sold out in minutes. Adweek.

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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: https://youtu.be/5lutHF5HhVA
  4. Show the Apple Watch: https://www.apple.com/watch/
  5. Show Nintendo Switch: https://www.nintendo.com/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: https://www.rxbar.com/
    3. Video about the company story: https://youtu.be/aMFwfKThixA
    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. Brandchannel.com

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