It seems that a number of companies are taking to the air and working on new transportation methods. A significant new entry vying for a place in the sky is Kitty Hawk, a company financed by Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO, Larry Page. (Kitty Hawk is run by Sebastian Thrun who started Google’s autonomous car unit as director of Google X.) The company has been working somewhat stealthily in New Zealand, testing a new type of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxis.
New Zealand’s prime minister recently announced that it will test Kitty Hawk’s autonomous planes as part of an official certification process. The goal is to have a commercial network of flying taxis in New Zealand in three years. Things will be somewhat different in the U.S. though; the FAA allows test flights of autonomous vehicles, but there is no path to commercialize at this point in time.
Kitty Hawk’s first plane is Cora, a personal air taxi for everyday use. The plane can take off and land like a helicopter, thus eliminating the need for a runway. It has the potential to land on spaces such as rooftops and parking lots. Cora combines self-flying software with expert human supervision. The all-electric vehicle is a pollution-free way to reduce commute time, and stress. Cora has a flight range of 100 kilometers and can fly 150 km/hour.
Look… up in the air… it’s a bird…. it’s a plan…. It’s Cora!
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the future of transportation. Will it be on the ground?
- Show Kitty Hawk’s Web site: https://kittyhawk.aero/
- A video of the plane is available at: https://cora.aero/
- Discuss the components of an environmental scan: social, technology, economics, competition, and legal.
- Ask students what data they would want in order to make a marketing decision for Kitty Hawk.
- Divide students into teams. Have each team use laptops to do general for one of the five components of the environmental scan.
- Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board. Does this give a good picture of the situation faced by Kitty Hawk?
Source: Sorkin, A. (12 March, 2018). Larry Page’s flying taxis, now exiting stealth mode. New York Times.
Marketers are constantly scanning the environment to find new trends. They need to recognize how external forces shape organizations and marketplaces. The lifestyles of consumers are refreshed as consumers are exposed to new ideas and trends. As environmental forces impact organizations, they can also influence consumer behavior. The five environmental forces – social, economic, technology, competitive, and legal – are continually challenging companies, products, and services.
These forces are in play when consumers explore new ways to live, eat, communicate, work, play, learn, and much more. And, with the advent of a new hyper-connected lifestyle (thanks to social media) consumers are quickly exposed to the latest social trends and new ideas.
What are some of the recent trends? According to Mintel Trends, here are some of the recent top trends in the marketplace:
- Consumers in transit: Adidas released 500 pairs of limited edition shoes that act as a valid annual ticket for BVG public transportation in Germany.
- Home safety: Vivint has a new app called Streety that allows users to share footage from their outdoor cameras with neighbors.
- Automotive: Luxury car manufacturer Infiniti teamed with Q & A Web site Zhihu to jointly host a 10-hour live streaming event where an entire car was dismantled so that consumers could learn about the different parts of the car and gain more knowledge about technology and performance.
- Consumer goods: Coca-Cola launched Coca-Cola Coffee Plus in Australia, a beverage that has twice as much caffeine as regular Coke but has just 42 calories.
Look around. What new trends do you spot?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Start by discussing how trends impact products and services.
- Bring up the Mintel top trends site: http://www.mintel.com/blog/new-market-trends/hotspots-january-2018s-top-trends-observations?utm_campaign=9103901_Mintel%20newsletter%20-%20NAM%2025%2F1%2F2018&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dotm&dm_i=2174,5F4M5,NVC5O0,KZ95H,1
- Information about the Adidas sneakers: https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/01/17/578598875/berlins-new-adidas-sneakers-feature-sewn-in-transit-tickets
- Vivint Streety information: https://www.vivint.com/resources/article/streety-new-neighborhood-watch-app
- Coca-Cola Coffee Plus: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coca-cola-plus-coffee-no-sugar–a-blend-of-two-favourites
- Which of these trends do students think have staying power?
- Poll students: What trends have they observed lately?
- Ask students to utilize the Internet to research trends. What are their findings?
Source: Mintel (25 January, 2018). Hotspots: January 2018’s top trend observations.