Tag Archives: consumer behavior

Rent Furniture instead of Buying

Most college students likely have furniture that includes hand-me-downs from family and friends, or purchases from garage sales and Craig’s List. The sofa in their living room was probably once used by Aunt Helen in Kentucky, transported by Cousin Patrick to New York, sold to his friend Alan who moved to New Jersey, and who knows who else as it made its way around the country! And that is fine for young millennials who are just starting out. But eventually, their longing turns to new furniture that they view regularly on social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.

But it’s hard to swallow that high-priced new furniture. New furniture buyers are likely shocked by the price for that brand-new West Elm sofa. How can they afford that thousand-dollar sofa when they have to pay student loans, car payments, rent, and everything else?

Enter: Services that let you rent furniture through a monthly membership, giving you the option to swap out furniture when tastes and trends change. For example, a popular West Elm sofa may cost $899 in stores, but it can be rented from Feather at $52/month (12-month subscription), and then swapped out, renewed, or returned. Individual pieces as well as full-rooms can be rented in certain cities. It’s a new way to live more upscale without having to pay out the entire fee at once.

Shall we redecorate?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students. Where is their furniture from? Family, friends, neighbors, Craigs List?
  2. What would be their interest level to rent new furniture once they graduate and begin working? How much would they be willing to pay?
  3. Show furniture rental sites:

West Elm: https://www.renttherunway.com/westelm

Casa One: https://www.casaone.com/

Fernish: https://fernish.co/

Feather: https://www.livefeather.com/

  1. Divide students into teams. Have each team examine the information for a different furniture rental company.
  2. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  3. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  4. Based on the target market profile, what makes this service unique for these customers?
  5. Debrief the exercise.

Source: Carefoot, H. (25 April 2019). Can’t afford that West Elm sofa? Rent it instead. Washington Post.

 

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Designer Toothpaste, Anyone?

Some products have become so ubiquitous in our lives that we seldom consider how they might be updated to reflect current trends. Consider products such as hand soap, detergent, and toothpaste. After all, when was the last time you truly examined your toothpaste and thought about design and innovation? And what exactly are the ingredients in toothpaste? Go ahead, read the ingredient list and you are likely to uncover it contains components such as triclosan and saccharin. (The FDA has banned triclosan for hand soap, but it is ok to put those ingredients in our mouths? Huh?)

Given how nearly every product seems to be undergoing a make-over, it just seems logical for toothpaste to get an update for today’s consumers. Packaging and ingredients can both be updated, as well as how and where consumers buy it. Today’s newer toothpastes take lessons from the beauty product world, where design and price points vary and make the products more appealing as well.

Of course, revisions may not come cheaply. French company Buly 1803 sells $29 toothpaste in artfully designed packaging and in flavors including orange-clove-cinnamon. Sephora carries a coconut oil dental floss ($8) and a Lush sells a charcoal, kaolin clay, and gunpowder tea tablet that is chewed before brushing. Twice, a brand from musician/artist Lenny Kravitz, has a two-pack of toothpaste (one for morning, another for evening) that sells at $17 for the pair with proceeds going to help Bahama communities.

Go ahead. Read the labels and make your choice.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  2. Show examples of new toothpaste:

Hello: https://www.hello-products.com/

Revolve: https://www.revolve.com/marvis/br/2677a2/?srcType=dp_des2

Sephora: https://www.sephora.com/product/cocofloss-P421244

Lush: https://www.lushusa.com/face/teeth/boom%21/04342.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1-6V-LP33wIVA4vICh1cJAaeEAQYBSABEgIiFvD_BwE

Twice: https://www.smiletwice.com/

APA Beauty: https://apabeauty.com/apa-white-toothpaste.html

  1. Review toothpaste products. What other products are competitors?
  2. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for one of the new companies.
  3. Have each team draw their map on the board.
  4. Debrief exercise.

Source: Shapiro, B. (4 April 2019). Is that chic toothpaste worth the price? New York Times.

 

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Is Ironing Clothes Obsolete?

When was the last time you used an iron to de-wrinkle clothes? If you are like most consumers, it’s probably been quite a while. While most homes in the U.S. still have an iron, many have not been used for much besides just gathering dust in the laundry room. Why is this?

Well, today’s clothes are more likely to be no-iron clothing than past clothes that required ironing in order to eliminate wrinkles. And today, even when there are wrinkles, Millennials have new solutions – such as popping wrinkled clothes in the dryer for a few minute. Steamers are also popular, as is the dryer setting for removing wrinkles. Other options include dry-cleaning, spraying clothes with wrinkle-release liquids, plus wrinkles can even be considered fashionable for cotton and linen clothing. And finally, ironing is often seen as a ‘chore’ to be avoided at all costs.

All these factors have resulted in sales of irons declining 7% from levels in 2016. In the same time period however, steamer sales have increased 19% as the steamers have gotten smaller and added new functions. Iron makers are moving into manufacturing portable garment steamers, and the spray starch industry is also reinventing its products and marketing.

Are irons a tool of the past?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What household products did their grandparents and parents use, but students do not use?
  2. Ask students when they last ironed clothes? When? Why? Other options?
  3. Discuss the different stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage? In what stage are clothes irons?
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various household products and services into each stage.
  5. Show Web sites for companies that make irons:

Reliable: https://reliablecorporation.com/

Rowenta: https://www.rowentausa.com/

  1. Divide students into teams: Have teams brainstorm how to reposition or revise irons so that it can be repositioned into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Konclus, J. (14 May 2019). No, millennials didn’t ‘kill’ ironing. Washington Post.

 

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