Tag Archives: innovation

Direct-to-Consumer Air Conditioner

It’s summer (finally)! People are leaving their houses and enjoying the warmer weather. Well, not everyone enjoys summer heat – many older apartments and houses lack central air conditioning and depend either on fans or in-window air conditioners. While many home technology devices are sleek looking and high-tech, the lowly room air conditioner has remained unchanged for decades, retaining its distinct lack of style.

July air conditioners aims to change that. The new direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand takes a fresh look at the design of in-window units and is positioning itself as a design item in addition to being an effective appliance. It’s struck a nerve with consumers; within the first five days of announcing a wait list for the product, there were more than 3,000 people waiting in (virtual) line. Early ordering also lowers the cost of the units by 25% and guarantees a summer delivery.

There are two units of power: 6,000 BTUs (cools up to 250 sq. ft.) is $349 and 8,000 BTUs (cools up to 350 sq. ft.) is $399. The unit is square, sleek and uses a simple installation process. The customer first inserts a frame to lock in the window, then slides in the unit until it clicks into place. The front of the unit is a solid panel that comes in white, light blue, gray, and ash wood that consumers can switch out and customize to match their decor. July can be controlled via WiFi and scheduled to turn on at a desired time as well as controlled with voice commands.

Ready for summer?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Show July: https://july.ac/
  3. For the July Air Conditioner product, who is the target market?
  4. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for July. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  5. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  6. July is a DTC brand – meaning it is not sold in stores. What are the considerations for this brand as it works to reach prospective customers?
  7. How is July positioning its products compared to the standard in-window air conditioners?

Source: Ad Week; Fast Company; Gear Patrol

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Should Marketing Mention the Coronavirus?

Let’s face it – marketers are always on the lookout for new opportunities to sell products and services to consumers. This is true in bad times as in good. However, marketers must also be sensitive to what is happening in consumers’ lives and in the general marketplace. It is not wise (or ethical) to take advantage of someone’s suffering or fear in order to make a sale.

It can be tough though. Retail sales have been declining since March and had their largest drop in April as employees worked from home and stores and restaurants were shuttered. Shopping has also shifted from brick-and-mortar stores to online and ecommerce. People are nervous and anxious about their current situation, and about their future. They are also isolated at home and crave human connection. What should a marketer do?

This brings us back to basics: focus on the target market. What is the message the customers want to hear, need to hear, and will respond to positively? Messages should be calm and positive, not scaring to consumers. Stay with the basics of marketing principles: understand the customer, stay connected, alter the tone of messages, stick to the facts, and listen.

Stay connected with consumers. Be honest. Be safe.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about marketers’ responsibility in times of crisis?
  2. Specifically for the coronavirus pandemic, should companies promote their goods and services by using a painful situation to their advantage?
  3. Show a video about marketing during crisis: https://youtu.be/vmEJZ08rBoM
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team research how various companies are addressing the coronavirus pandemic in their advertising and marketing. (Suggestions: Nike, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Tide, etc.)
  5. What is being done correctly? What should be changed?
  6. In teams, assign a product to the teams and have the students develop a marketing campaign that uses the pandemic in a way that shows a value to consumers.

Source: Ad Week; New York Times; other news sources

 

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Working Out from Home

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is changing consumer behavior and the dynamics of many industries. We have seen shortages of essential items such as toilet paper, eggs, and flour. There has also been a steep rise in the sales and uses of technology as people have moved to working from home and dramatically reduced their social interactions. Virtually all aspects of our lives have been impacted in one way or another, including how we exercise and work out.

With gyms and fitness centers closed due to coronavirus concerns, people have moved to new ways to work out. New fitness routines include using old-fashioned home equipment, online Zoom workouts, and high-tech Internet-connected equipment. Many of the newer market entries also include artificial intelligence to help determine and guide workout plans.

The new equipment is decidedly interactive; some include motion-sensor cameras, 3-D modeling, A.I. generated coaching, automatic adjustments when the user is struggling, and mobile apps. These workout devices include stationary cycles, treadmills, weight-lifting equipment, and interactive mirrors. Most require a hefty initial investment plus a monthly subscription fee. Some even provide interaction during workouts with other people, and help build a community of patrons. However, if you want social interaction, you’ll have to wait for gyms to reopen.

Ready, set, go!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  2. Review various fitness products and services. What products are competitors?
  3. Show a variety of newer, high-tech fitness devices:

Carol: https://carolfitai.com/

Tempo Fit: https://tempo.fit/

Bowflex: https://www.bowflex.com/

Tonal: http://tonal.com/

Hyfitgear: https://www.hyfitgear.com/

Peloton: https://www.onepeloton.com/

Mirror: https://www.mirror.co/

  1. Have each team research one of the companies. What does each provide? Cost? Market? Subscription? Activities?
  2. Then, have each team provide a positioning map based on their research of the companies.

Source: New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

 

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