Tag Archives: automobiles

Product Lines Don’t Last Forever

Nothing lasts forever. It’s a tired phrase, but a true one, that is often applied to consumer goods. In the past year or so, two of the most ubiquitous consumer products that have been deleted include the VCR and the iPod. It happens in all industries.

In the automotive industry, some of the famous car brands that have been deleted in the past decade include Pontiac, Saturn, Maybach, Mercury, Hummer, Saab, Isuzu, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth. The most recent company to delete a car line (but not the entire company) is Ford. Ford plans to kill off its entire sedan lineup (except Mustang!). The company plans to delete Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta – some of which have had high rankings and sales. Why cut the lines?

Strategically, Ford needs to cut costs and improve its overall financial performance. The company’s decision also seems to reflect changing consumer preferences for SUVs and crossovers, instead of traditional family sedans. Generation Y and Millennials are now starting families, but they still want to maintain an active lifestyle. This makes SUVs a popular choice. By 2020, Ford plans to have nearly 90% of its vehicles in the categories of truck, SUV, and commercial vehicles. And, let’s not forget about emerging demands for electric and autonomous vehicles.

Out with the old – in with the new.

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. Show Ford’s Web site: https://www.ford.com/
  4. Where do the various vehicles fit in the product life cycle?
  5. Discuss Ford’s cuts to its product lines.
  6. Have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Detroit Free Press, Brandchannel.com, New York Times, other news sources

 

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Delivery Direct to Your Car

Have you ever had a problem with delivery of packages? Have you been a victim of ‘porch pirates’ stealing packages before you get home? If so, then you may like the new option for Amazon’s in-car package delivery, placed securely in your trunk or back seat. The service is available to Amazon Prime members who have an active GM OnStar or Volvo On Call account in 37 cities across the U.S.

It seems pretty easy. Using an Amazon app, the customer inputs the information about their car (must be a 2015 or newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, or Volvo). For each order, the customer selects a delivery to their car, receives a notification when the delivery is on its way, and another notification after delivery is completed and door/trunk relocked. Delivery people use the car’s assistance services to locate the car and unlock it.

The car delivery service only works for vehicles parked in lots that are easily accessible. It won’t work for parking garages or gated communities. And, if you’re worried about damage to the car, Amazon even said that it will take care of a broken window or lock that happens as a result of the delivery.

Go ahead and order – there are a lot of delivery options, including porch, office, in-home, locker, and now, your car.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the topics of package delivery. Has anyone had problems?
  2. Show the Amazon information and video about car delivery: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=17051031011
  3. CNET video: https://youtu.be/8bZfZZJ7Q4Q
  4. Video of customer testimonials: https://youtu.be/w4akHn0jQCc
  5. Poll students: Would they use this service?
  6. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  7. For in-car delivery, what is the target market?
  8. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a target market profile. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.

Source: CNET, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Detroit Free Press, other news sources

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The Ultimate Vending Machine Contains Cars

What was the last item you purchased from a vending machine? Most consumers purchase convenience items such as drinks and snacks at the ubiquitous machines. Maybe in an airport or mall there might be a vending machine for electronics such as headphones and chargers, movies, or prepared meals for people on the go. And, speaking of “on the go”……..

Alibaba’s Tmall recently unveiled what is possibly the world’s largest vending machine, for the world’s largest car market. The product sold in the machines? Cars!

The automobile vending machine, located in Guangzhou, China, is a partnership between Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and American car manufacturer Ford Motor. The program offers a three-day test-drive to potential customers shopping for a new car. The giant vending machine contains more than 100 vehicles, including small cars, family cars, sports cars, and SUVs. Cars include those made in China as well as imported from the U.S. The goal for the new program is to improve the car buying process for consumers.

The process starts with a mobile app (of course) called the “Super Test-Drive” app. Consumers use the app to research, browse available models, and select a car and pick-up time. Snapping a selfie picture provides facial recognition that is used to confirm the booking and borrow the car from the vending machine. And, if the customer’s credit score is good enough, then the three-day test-drive is free.

This sounds a lot more fun than just getting a snack from the local vending machine!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why buy from vending machines?
  2. View video of the process: https://youtu.be/zFDDcTOFkEA
  3. 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.
  4. Does this vending machine fit the model? Or does the model need to change?
  5. Consider assigning different student groups to work on different target markets. Then the process for the different target markets can be compared and contrasted.

Source: Brandchannel.com (26 March, 2018). Alibaba and Ford launch China’s first Tmall car vending machine.

 

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