Tag Archives: innovation

Segway: Innovation and Re-Innovation

Perhaps you have ridden a Segway at some point in time, but it is much more likely you have not. First introduced in 2001, Segway was promoted as the world’s first self-balancing human transport vehicle. The product hype was enormous. People around the world clamored for the product that was supposed to revolutionize transportation, particularly in the last mile. But the hype never came to fruition. What happened?

Industry analysts had originally predicted that the innovative Segway would quickly reach $1 billion in sales. However, by 2007, it had reached only a fraction of that amount and growth appeared to stall out. Why? One key reason was the hefty price tag of $4,950, placing it outside the reach of most consumers. Another reason was that, well, people looked like geeks when riding it. It wasn’t cool, nor was it especially safe. Even then-President Bush was filmed on it while falling. And later, the company owner died while operating a Segway near his home.

This pushed the vehicle into the area of mall cops and tourists. However, in 2015, Chinese company Ninebot bought the company to use in developing other markets and products. Ninebot is a leading manufacturer of today’s electric scooters which are seeing strong acceptance in the marketplace, even as they too face safety issues.

But still, there are problems in the last mile. How do you navigate?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle.
  2. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  3. Poll students: Who knows anything about Segway?
  4. Where is Segway on the PLC? Where are electric scooters?
  5. Show Segway’s Web site: http://www.segway.com/
  6. Show Ninebot’s Segway site: http://uk-en.segway.com/
  7. Ask students what happened to Segway? Why wasn’t the product a hit?
  8. Show video story of Segway: https://youtu.be/U-l4Kf9NUJo
  9. What is the company doing now to re-invent itself? Can it succeed

Source: CNN Business

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Microchips Under My Skin

Have you ever misplaced a key card that is needed to enter work? Or maybe can’t find your rail pass? Or as an employer, can you truly track access and secure a facility in this age of technology? But, what are you willing to trade for that security and access?

Some companies and people are now taking the step of embedding access into bodies through technology. They insert a microchip under the skin; with an embedded chip, there is no risk of losing access passes, or of being robbed of an important access pass.

It might sound a little like fiction (think, ‘James Bond’), but it is now a reality for thousands of people in Sweden. The microchips are designed by the Swedish company Biohax to make life easier and more secure. Those in favor of the microchips say they are safe, but others raise concerns about privacy, health, and hacking.

The chips are the size of a grain of rice and cost an estimated $180 per chip. Using a syringe, the chips are placed into the skin between the thumb and forefinger and have the capability of transmitters. For example, the chip can enable users to open doors, start cars, contain critical medical data, transfer personal data, and more. In Sweden, the largest train company has started allowing commuters to replace tickets with the chips. There is also talk that the chips could be used to make payments in stores and restaurants.

What do you think? Want a chip under your skin?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  2. Show the Biohax site: https://www.biohax.tech/
  3. Show video of the product: https://youtu.be/eX1KNlI40V8
  4. What are the characteristics of the target market for this product?
  5. For Biohax microchips, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source: Savage, M. (22 October 2018). Thousands of Swedes are inserting microchips under their skin. All Things Considered – National Public Radio

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Sam’s Club Now Goes Cashier Free

Amazon isn’t the only company working on reinventing the retail experience. While the Amazon Go stores have captured consumers’ attention and shoppers at its cashier-less grocery stores, it’s not the only retailer interested in using technology to improve the customer shopping experience. Walmart recently announced that it is opening Sam’s Club Now, also cashier-less, in Dallas. The company describes its new store as a “technology lab that doubles as a live, retail club.” At 32,000 square feet it isn’t quite a compact store, but it is significantly smaller than the typical Sam’s Club store.

Similar to Amazon Go, in order to shop at Sam’s Club Now, members will need to use a Sam’s Club app that allows customers to scan UPC codes as they shop and check themselves out when done shopping. The app also includes smart shopping lists, in-store voice search and maps, augmented reality for new in-store experiences, and one-hour pickup.

Employees don’t go away – they instead shift to a new role called the Member Host. These associates are the face of the company and will use technology to help them serve Sam’s Club members better. Sam’s Club stated that the “future of retail is as much about people as it is about technology.”

If you’re in Dallas, check it out.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use of innovation throughout retail.
  2. Review Sam’s Club Now announcement and video: https://corporate.samsclub.com/blog/2018/10/29/sams-club-now-reimagining-the-future-of-retail
  3. Compare this with Amazon Go: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=16008589011
  4. What are the similarities, and differences, between the two services?
  5. How should the two companies position against each other?

Source:  Advertising Age, New York Times, other news sources

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