Tag Archives: product development

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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Interested in the Future? Check out CES.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest and most influential showcases in the United States for introducing innovative products from around the globe. At this year’s show in Las Vegas, CES included more than 20,000 new products from 4,400 companies. A diverse group of companies included manufacturing, transportation, entertainment, robotics, automotive, consumer goods, and more. (The show is produced by the Consumer Technology Association which represents the $401 billion U.S. consumer technology industry.)

CES was held in January and hosted 175 thousand attendees who viewed products from 4,400 different exhibitors in categories such as 3D printing, gaming, robotics, sports, drones, fitness, health and wellness, retailing, wearables, and a variety of other product groupings. CES regularly announces thousands of new products, including many that we all know and use today.

This year’s show provided looks at products in the marketplace as well as products-yet-to-be-launched in categories including:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • 5G and mobile connectivity
  • Food and CPG companies
  • Health care technology
  • Smart cities
  • Home sensors and technology
  • Travel and tourism
  • Transportation and vehicle technology
  • And lots of robots!

It’s hard to pick a favorite product from the show. What’s your favorite innovation from CES?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the purpose of CES show and how innovation fits into it.
  2. Also discuss the use of trade shows and exhibits as part of a marketing plan.
  3. Show a summary video about CES from the Wall Street Journal: https://graphics.wsj.com/image-grid/ces-2020/?mod=djem10point
  4. Additional summary videos can be found on YouTube: https://youtu.be/YvRP_Y1WDxw
  5. View the CES Web site: https://www.ces.tech/
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a product featured at CES.
  7. Instruct students to research the products online, and define a target market for the product.
  8. Which ones do they think will be winners in the marketplace?

Source:  C/NET; TechRadar.com; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

 

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