Tag Archives: Product innovation

Finally – Female Army Soldier Toys!

It may have been a while since we played “Army,” but most of us can recall the little green plastic army men that we used to declare war on our siblings and friends! Those little toy men offered hours of inexpensive play and imagination. But, note the key word here: “men.” Where are the female soldier figures? After all, women have been in military service and combat for decades. Why haven’t the figures changed to reflect the new military? Good question.

After a fruitless search looking for female soldier figures, a six-year old girl in Little Rock, Ark., decided to write letters to toy companies asking for female soldiers. One company, BMC Toys based in Scranton, Penn., replied to her about the request. The company had been considering offering female figures, even going so far as sketching the female soldier figures in classic Army poses. The letter finally made the decision for the company and the new toys will be released in 2020. The feedback has already been overwhelmingly positive and preorders are being requested. BMC plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help promote the toy and gain funding.

Let’s play Army!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the role of gender in toys with students. Have students list toys that are oriented to boys, and toys oriented to girls.
  2. What makes them different? Should there be different toys by gender?
  3. Show news video about the girl Army toys: https://youtu.be/i_eYnv_pCZs
  4. BMC blog post about the toys: https://bmctoys.com/blogs/news/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-project
  5. Have students search for female soldier toys on Amazon. What did they find? (What they will find are ‘pink colored’ soldiers, but still in male forms.)
  6. Next, divide students into teams. Have each team choose one of the male or female toys and develop a new product that would appeal to both genders.
  7. Have each team also develop a marketing program for the new toy.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, CNN, CBS Evening News, Fortune, and other news sources.

 

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for Mustard Ice Cream?

It is summer and we crave ice cream. Perhaps you are an ice cream addict. Perhaps you have tried virtually hundreds of flavors over the years. But, have you ever tried ‘mustard ice cream’? How have we lived without this flavor?

It’s not as strange as one might think. After all, there have been other crazy flavors of ice cream over the years: goat cheese ice cream, cilantro lime ice cream, curry and mint ice cream, sweet corn ice cream, lavender honey, and many more! And before you ask, yes, there is a ketchup-flavored ice cream which was created in honor of musician Ed Sheeran (who sports a ketchup tattoo), but it appears to only be available in Ireland.

The mustard ice cream was created by French’s and Coolhaus Ice Cream to celebrate National Mustard Day on August 3rd.  Unfortunately for all the mustard fans, the ice cream had a limited run of only a few days in New York and California locations. But, there is still good news – the recipe is available online for home chefs. The tart concoction is best served with a pretzel cookie to compliment the flavor.

Race you to the freezer!

P.S. Look at the fine print at the bottom of the container!

 

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss brand extension products (ex: Cheerios, Tide, etc.).
  2. What makes a brand extension successful? A failure?
  3. Divide students into team and have each team name five brand extensions.
  4. Show French’s Mustard Ice Cream site and video: https://www.mccormick.com/frenchs/mustard-ice-cream
  5. What are the students’ response to the product?
  6. In teams, have each team develop an idea for another unusual food product that is based on popular flavors.
  7. Since the ice cream is not widely available, ask for a volunteer to make the ice cream – perhaps for extra credit? https://www.mccormick.com/frenchs/recipes/dessert/no-churn-frenchs-yellow-mustard-ice-cream?utm_source=ice-cream&utm_medium=landing-page&utm_campaign=recipe-link

Source: Ad Week, CNN, USA Today, other news sources

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Cool Tech Products from the Consumer Electronics Show

Most students are unaware of it, but 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. This year, CES exhibited more than 4,500 companies, including manufacturing, transportation, entertainment, robotics, automotive, and more. The show is produced by the Consumer Technology Association which represents the $398 billion U.S. consumer technology industry.

This year, CES was held in Las Vegas, Nev., and hosted 182,000 attendees who viewed products 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, such as:

  • High Definition TV
  • Satellite Radio
  • Microsoft Xbox
  • Blu-Ray DVD
  • OCED TV and 3D HDTV
  • Tablets, notebooks
  • Virtual reality

This year’s show provided a lot of great new products and technologies, including foldable phones, scooters, roll-able TV screens, flying cars, robots, and even an elevated walking car. While not all of the products at the event will make it into full production and into our homes and garages, they are nonetheless interesting to consider and think about.

What would you like to see at CES?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the purpose of CES show and how innovation fits into it.
  2. View the CES Web site: https://www.ces.tech/
  3. Show a summary video about CES from the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/video/the-best-stuff-we-saw-at-ces-2019/E4A868A0-AEC6-4EFB-8A09-97E51993C57B.html
  4. Additional summary videos can be found on YouTube: https://youtu.be/mHreov2zl1U
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a product featured at CES.
  6. Instruct students to research the products online, and define a target market for the product.
  7. Which ones do they think will be winners in the marketplace?

Source:  Pierce, D. & Bindley, K. (8 January 2019). The craziest and coolest technologies that might even matter. Wall Street Journal.

 

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