Tag Archives: manufacturing

Is Owning Music at an End?

When was the last time you purchased music? Not music streaming, but actually bought a physical product for money?

If you are like most consumers, it has probably been a long time since you purchased a CD. In the last decade, CD sales have fallen 80% – from 450 million units to 89 million units! Consider the lasting impact of the declining sales, not only on the record industry, but also in manufacturing. Many of today’s car companies (e.g., Tesla, Ford, Toyota) no longer even include a CD player in the car dashboard, and portable CD players are hard to find.

Even downloads of music have taken a big hit, decreasing 58% since the peak in 2012. Artists have also noted the trends; Bruce Springsteen released his latest box set exclusively on vinyl – no CD options. CDs are doing well in some markets though – in Japan, where streaming has not yet taken off, 72% of music sales were physical CDs. But look around U.S. retail stores – where are the CDs even stocked?

It’s not just streaming that has killed off the CD. Vinyl records have grown from less than a million units in 2007 to more than 14 million in 2017. Vinyl sales even hit a 25-year high last year and new vinyl record manufacturing is popping up to replace CD manufacturing.

Here are some numbers to note about music sales:

  • CD sales: 712 million units in 2001, to 88.6 million units in 2017.
  • Track downloads: 1.3 billion sold per year from 2011 – 2013; 555 million sold in 2017
  • Song streams: 118.1 billion in 2013; 618 billion in 2017
  • Vinyl: 990,000 units in 2007; 14.3 million units in 2017

How do you buy your music?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Poll students: When did they last purchase music? What form was it in?
  3. Where did they last see CDs or vinyl music? What was the inventory level?
  4. Who has a CD player in their car?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
  6. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Knopper, S. (14 June, 2018). The end of owning music. Rolling Stone.

 

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Product Lines Don’t Last Forever

Nothing lasts forever. It’s a tired phrase, but a true one, that is often applied to consumer goods. In the past year or so, two of the most ubiquitous consumer products that have been deleted include the VCR and the iPod. It happens in all industries.

In the automotive industry, some of the famous car brands that have been deleted in the past decade include Pontiac, Saturn, Maybach, Mercury, Hummer, Saab, Isuzu, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth. The most recent company to delete a car line (but not the entire company) is Ford. Ford plans to kill off its entire sedan lineup (except Mustang!). The company plans to delete Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta – some of which have had high rankings and sales. Why cut the lines?

Strategically, Ford needs to cut costs and improve its overall financial performance. The company’s decision also seems to reflect changing consumer preferences for SUVs and crossovers, instead of traditional family sedans. Generation Y and Millennials are now starting families, but they still want to maintain an active lifestyle. This makes SUVs a popular choice. By 2020, Ford plans to have nearly 90% of its vehicles in the categories of truck, SUV, and commercial vehicles. And, let’s not forget about emerging demands for electric and autonomous vehicles.

Out with the old – in with the new.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
  3. Show Ford’s Web site: https://www.ford.com/
  4. Where do the various vehicles fit in the product life cycle?
  5. Discuss Ford’s cuts to its product lines.
  6. Have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Detroit Free Press, Brandchannel.com, New York Times, other news sources

 

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The Robotic Dog that Can Open Doors

Robotic technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. But the ultimate in robotic technology today undoubtedly comes from Boston Dynamics, a spin-off from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (previously owned by Google; now owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank). The company has a variety of robots with two legs, four legs, and wheels. These robots seem to be able to do nearly anything. They can run, leap, fly, walk, and climb buildings.

The newest robot is SpotMini and it has the ability to open doors. While that might sound pretty simple, it is actually a very complicated robotic task. And, in a recent video highlighting SpotMini, having a human wielding a hockey stick makes opening a door even more complicated! (Spoiler Alert: Spot eventually gets the door open.)

In this case, the robot does almost all the moves autonomously. A human handler drove the robot to the door, then commanded it to open the door. The robot was able to automatically correct for the forces of hockey stick and tail-pulling. While Spot has very limited abilities, robotics are entering into areas such as security, food delivery, as well as answering questions and interacting with humans in public places.

Before you worry about robots taking over the world though, remember that they are designed to help humans. Even if we shove them with hockey sticks.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the concepts of products, product line, and product mix.
  2. Bring up Boston Dynamics’s Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com,
  3. Show the latest video of SpotMini opening doors: https://youtu.be/aFuA50H9uek
  4. Other videos are on Boston Dynamics’ YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7vVhkEfw4nOGp8TyDk7RcQ
  5. Make sure to watch Atlas do a back flip! https://youtu.be/fRj34o4hN4I
  6. Using Boston Dynamics, illustrate the concepts of products, product lines, and product mix.
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team come up with an example of other companies and state the products, product line, and product mix.

Source:  Simon, M. (20 Feb. 2018). Watch a human try to fight off that door-opening robot dog. Wired.

 

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