Tag Archives: marketing research

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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Does Research Funding Source Matter to Results?


Research is a critical component in marketing as well as science. A key criteria for a solid, credible research project is that it clearly delineates the research process, and the funding. When this does not happen, then consumers feel mislead and tricked, and the result is a loss of trust.

This is what happened last month to the Global Energy Balance Network when it released a research report claiming that there was no compelling evidence that fast food and sugary drinks have contributed to health issues such as obesity and diabetes. But a key omission was that the NGO failed to disclose that one its key funding partners was Coca-Cola, which contributed $1.5 million to the NGO. In addition, Coca-Cola also provided additional funding for various projects to two of the Global Energy Balance Network’s founding members.

Adding to the furor was the lack of transparency and information on GEBN’s Web site, which was eventually corrected. Many corporations provide funding for research projects. What is their responsibility, and the researcher’s responsibility, for disclosing project and funding details?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance and use of research in marketing.
  2. Discuss the issue of transparency in research. Why is this important?
  3. Bring up the Web site for Global Energy Balance Network: https://gebn.org/
  4. Have students review the site and evaluate the material, including funding.
  5. Discuss the ethical considerations for research and funding.
  6. Given the negative press that occurred after the research funding disclosure, what could Coca-Cola and Global Energy Balance Network do to regain consumer confidence?

Source: New York Times

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Social Media Helps Market Researchers


Marketers have traditionally used research methods such as focus groups, observation, trend analysis, and competitive research to help develop and gauge customer response to new products. But that was before social media. Today, a new research methodology using social media is helping companies understand consumer preferences and develop new products. Case in point: Frito-Lay is using Facebook to interact with its customers to suggest new flavors. The company’s “Do us a flavor” app on Facebook encourages customers to suggest and vote on new flavor combinations.

Frito-Lay isn’t the only company using this method. Other companies, such as Wal-Mart, have also been using social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare as an marketing research forum. Wal-Mart used social media networks to determine whether to stock lollipop-shaped cake makers, Estee Lauder asked its social media users to vote on lipstick shades to bring back to market, and Samuel Adams got its fans involved to create a crowd-sourced beer.

Marketers benefit from the direct interaction with customers. Customers get a voice, a vote, and show their preferences directly and immediately with companies.

Another benefit for companies is that social media users trend to younger ages; these are people who might not previously have been vocal in their likes and dislikes. Companies might not have even realized they had disenfranchised consumers until sagging sales made it too late for action. Now, by involving customers early, companies get the benefit of the crowds viewpoints early, long before potentially losing market share.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group search social media sites to uncover companies using sites for market research.
  2. Companies to examine on Facebook and Twitter: Wal-Mart, Frito-Lay, Samuel Adams, and Kohls.
  3. How are these companies using social media such as Facebook and Twitter for research?
  4. What other companies and products might benefit from this approach? Why?
  5. What are the pros of using social media for market research?
  6. What are the negative aspects?
  7. In groups, have students design a market research project that could be conducted using a company’s Facebook app.

Source:  New York Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, other news sources, 7/31/12

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