Tag Archives: manufacturing

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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Handle With Care

You probably know this saying – “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And if ever the world needed new inventions, it’s now!

In this time of quarantine during the global Covid-19 pandemic, people around the world worry about infection on a daily basis. Even during stay-at-home restrictions, we still need to venture out to buy supplies. Routine trips to the stores usually involve the need to touch handles, and that make us worry about the transmission of virus via surfaces. Sure, we can wear gloves, but door-handles in public places can facilitate the spread of contagions.

Clean-energy company Fortum in Finland has created a new door-handle that can be used with arms (instead of germy hands). It is a door-handle supplement that attaches to existing door-handles and lets people open the door with a sleeved arm instead of a hand. Made of recycled plastic, Fortum Vipu is intended to help prevent the spread of disease. (The name ‘Vipu’ is short for ‘virus protection unit’.)

The devices are made from a recycled plastics material called Fortum Circo and are produced using 3D printing. The company is now testing the handles in a real retail environment in grocery stores in Finland. If all goes as planned, production can be quickly expanded. The data and feedback gained from the trial will be used to further the design and innovation of devices.

Inventions – keep it up!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the various concerns that students have about transmission of virus.
  2. What are the ways in which stores are combatting the spread of virus and ensuring the safety of customers?
  3. Show the video of the door-handle attachment: https://youtu.be/2fuTMAoli0g
  4. The Website can be viewed for more details: https://www.fortum.com/vipu/
  5. How can this device be used in other environments?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team brainstorm a solution to a common problem such as contaminated door-handles.
  7. Teams can also do research about other solutions to this problem.

Source: Ad Week

 

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Back to Basics: Toilet Paper

We consumers are a strange bunch. One minute we are buying in a predictable way, at the usual times and in the usual patterns. Then, boom! Suddenly the world changes seemingly overnight and consumers take drastic and unusual shopping actions.

In this case, what was once a stable item – toilet paper – became a hot product in high demand as the coronavirus hit the U.S. According to Nielsen, in the first week of social distancing guidelines, toilet paper demand increased 120% versus the same time last year. Customers began buying toilet paper in bulk and ratcheted up hoarding of the commodity product. This type of reaction is not uncommon during times of stress when consumers feel a need to control at least one aspect of their lives.

Why the shortage though? In part, it is because toilet paper manufacturing and distribution flows through an efficient, tightly-controlled supply chain. Since it is a bulky product to ship and shelve, retailers keep low inventory on-hand and depend on frequent shipments to replenish stock.

On average, the volume a household consumes toilet paper is about 141 rolls per year. But, during the current crisis, consumers are going through more toilet paper at home since more people are working at home and not venturing out to restaurants, retailers, and other out-of-home events.

Be kind. Share.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the elements in the supply chain and marketing channel.
  2. Diagram the supply chain and marketing channel for toilet paper.
  3. Show a brief video about toilet paper supply chain: https://youtu.be/By2mmIUzG-w
  4. Another video choice: https://youtu.be/NiQKvfo3l94
  5. View Cottonelle’s Web site and it’s plea for kindness and sharing: https://www.cottonelle.com/en-us/share-a-square
  6. Where are the stress points in the supply chain and marketing channel?
  7. What can be done to better produce and manage products such as toilet paper during times of crisis?

Source: Ad Week; Associated Press; Nielsen Research; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

 

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