Tag Archives: innovation

The Major Leagues get a new Sport – Pickleball  

By now we’re all familiar with pickleball. We’ve heard about it from friends, relatives, and neighbors. After all, it is the fastest-growing recreational sport with roughly five million players.

But somehow, it lacks the status of other sports. You know, the ones with big name players, top athletes, and big leagues. Like the NBA, MLB, MLS, NFL, and more. But now, there is a new entrant to the big leagues – MLP (also known as major league pickleball)!

Even basketball king LeBron James is in on the action, having recently purchased a MLP team. The MLP will expand to 24 teams next year. Each team has co-ed players, two men and two women, who play singles and doubles events.

In MLP play, there are no home teams. Similar to the three-on-three basketball league Big3, all teams arrive in the tournament city for play. This year there were three tournaments and next year will have six tournaments. Prize money in 2023 will be $2.4 million (compared to $1 million this year).

The popularity of pickleball has grown rapidly. Community organizations, tennis clubs, and athletic gear companies have all gotten in on the new sport. Pickleball-only clubs are also being developed. One such club is Lucky Shot in Minneapolis where players match up in a 40,000-square-foot space. Other entertainment locations such as breweries are also installing pickleball courts.

It may have a crazy name, but it’s caught on and entered the big leagues!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What are favorite sports? Which sports do the students play?
  2. Who has played pickleball? Describe their experiences.
  3. Show the MLP site: https://www.majorleaguepickleball.net/
  4. Show Lucky Shots site: https://luckyshotspickleball.com/
  5. Show Smash Park site: https://smashpark.com/
  6. Divide students into teams.
  7. Have each team put together a marketing campaign to gain followers for a pickleball team.
  8. What are the key elements?

Source:  Berkman, S. (14 June 2022). Developers embrace passion for pickleball. New York Times.; Mather, V. (3 October 2022). Move over… everything? Here comes major league pickleball. New York Times.

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Nice nails. You get those from a robot?

We have written a number of articles about robots and the use of robotics in different aspects of business. One usually think of robots being used in factories, warehouses, and manufacturing. Big jobs and big tasks.

There are robots driving trucks, assembling cars, stocking warehouses, retrieving packages, vacuuming floors, cutting grass, and greeting guests at businesses. And let’s not forget Flippy the hamburger-making robot, and Spot the incredible wonder dog from Boston Robotics.

But here is one you probably have not heard of – a robot that provides manicures. Well, at least it provides the nail polish coats – a sort of mini-manicure.

The robot is from San Francisco startup “Clockwork” and paints nails in 10-minutes for $8 at several select Target stores in Chaska (Minn.), Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Francisco. Appointments can be booked online at Clockworks. With 24 colors in hues of neutrals, darks, brights, metallics, reds, and more, there is a color to fit any mood or fashion.

The box-like machine is located in the beauty department and is staffed by Target employees. The nail robot uses both AI and 3D technology for careful application. According to Clockwork, the average woman spends 3,120 minutes per year on nails and hundreds of dollars. Why not shorten the time and lower the cost?

What color would you like?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students about manicures. How much do they spend? How much time does it take?
  2. Show video: https://youtu.be/oQjLg3brTH8
  3. Show website: https://www.likeclockwork.com/
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a marketing program for robotic manicures.
  5. How could experiential marketing be used in the promotion?

Sources:  Hutton, R. (31 August 2022). Chaska Target pilots $10 robot manicures. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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Forget about Coffee Pods. Use Coffee Balls

Raise your hand if you drink coffee every day. Yep, we thought so – lots of caffeine is used in students’ lives. Coffee is an essential part of our daily routine. The types of brewed coffee may vary, but coffee is consumed around the world and represents a significant export to many countries.

Americans alone drink 400 million cups of coffee every day; 85% of Americans have at least one cup of coffee at home each day. While estimates vary, about 42% of U.S. consumers own a single-cup coffee brewing system (such as K-Cups). Consumption of K-Cups now exceeds 30 billion units annually. That’s a lot of plastic waste!

While consumers love convenience, that convenience carries a cost to the environment with respect to the waste generated. Although many types of K-cups are now recyclable, couldn’t more be done to marry convenience with sustainability?

The answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” A new coffee brewing system is coming first to France and Germany from Swiss company Migros. The brewing system is called “CoffeeB” and it uses compressed balls of coffee grounds which are encased in a thin, tasteless, seaweed base that can be composted. The coffee balls will be available in multiple blends including espressos to decaf coffee and will include organic coffee options as well. No plastic waste!

Drink up!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who drinks coffee? How much? How is it brewed?
  2. Show video of CoffeeB system: https://youtu.be/49eo8F2H7zY
  3. Show Website: https://www.migros.ch/en/content/coffeeb
  4. Divide students into teams. Have them us their laptops to research the coffee industry.
  5. Build an environmental scan of the factors impacting the coffee industry: social, economic, technology, competitive, and regulatory.
  6. What are the opportunities and threats for CoffeeB?
  7. Alternative assignment: Develop a marketing plan for introducing CoffeeB in the U.S.

Sources:  Rothman, L. (6 September 2022). How a ball of coffee could change your morning routine forever. Tasting Table.

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