Tag Archives: product development

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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SpotMini Learns to Dance and Atlas Does Parkour

In an article posted on this blog earlier a few weeks ago, the focus was on the simplicity of innovation. Sure, innovation can often be smooth and simple, such as extending a brand line, or simplifying packaging and pricing. But, what really grabs consumers’ attention is the more imagination-capturing innovation involving high-tech products such as drones, self-driving cars, and of course – robots!

Welcome back our friends SpotMini and Atlas from Boston Dynamics. They’ve both learned new tricks and are excited to show us their accomplishments: dancing and parkour!

While the videos are not typical robot behavior, they do show how robots can be programmed and even autonomously learn new behavior such as jumping over obstacles. While to date, all of its robots have been built individually, Boston Dynamics plans to manufacture hundreds of SpotMinis next year. But, unfortunately for consumers, the robots won’t be sold in the consumer market. The likely industrial markets include construction, commercial security, municipal security, and entertainment.

In the meantime, watch the videos and enjoy the show. (But be warned. Seeing a robot dog twerk can cause lasting damage…)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the principles of innovation.
  2. First, show Spot mini dancing to Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”: https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8
  3. Next, show Atlas doing parkour: https://youtu.be/hSjKoEva5bg
  4. Finally, this video is an interview with Boston Dynamics about how its videos became YouTube viral sensations: https://video.wired.com/watch/the-story-behind-the-internet-s-favorite-robots
  5. Discuss business-to-business marketing.
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team define an industry that SpotMini or Atlas could be sold to.

Source:  Wired, Boston Dynamics

 

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Baby Food Innovation

“Baby food.” Even the phrase itself brings to mind mushy, tasteless, pureed, prepared food. While that may have been true of the old-fashioned prepared baby foods, it certainly doesn’t apply to today’s offerings of fresh, organic, foods for babies. Today, new parents are turning to delivery-based meal services to help them save time on meal preparation, but still provide healthy, nutritious, and delicious foods for their families.

Meal preparation is a topic for all stages of family life. According to Pew Research, both parents work in nearly two-thirds of all U.S. households. And, with so much time spent at work, time in the kitchen is at a premium. This has given rise to a number of meal delivery services such as Home Chef, Blue Apron, Plated, and more. But all of these are focused on adults. What about meals for the babies? Meals for babies present a somewhat unique problem– babies can eat only a small amount at a time, meaning that the potential waste of food is quite high.

A number of start-up companies have entered the baby food arena. These companies offer a variety of prepared products including flash-frozen food pouches which contain portioned, chopped, ingredients to meet a baby’s nutritional needs. Other companies deliver cold-pressed fruit and vegetable food pouches in temperature-controlled packaging. And yet another provides tubs of cold-pressed baby purees, including a spoon and packaged in a reseal-able container.

Food matters.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use prepared, delivered meals. Have students had an experience with these?
  2. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  3. Divide students into teams and have each team review a baby food product company with respect to product, price, place, and promotion.
  4. Examples include:
    1. Raised Real: https://www.raisedreal.com/
    2. Once Upon a Farm: https://onceuponafarmorganics.com/
    3. Little Spoon: https://www.littlespoon.com/
    4. Gerber: https://www.gerber.com/products/baby-food
  5. Have each team develop a positioning map.
  6. Have each team draw their map on the board.
  7. Debrief exercise.

Source:  Painter, K. (29 September, 2018). When the jar isn’t enough: Baby food innovators are on a roll these days. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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