Tag Archives: Product innovation

Register Robot System in Japan

Do you ever get tired of waiting in line to check out of a grocery store? In the future, the check-out process will be streamlined, using more robotic registers. Recently, Panasonic teamed with Lawson food stores in Japan for a trial run of its new robotic check-out system. The “Reji-Robo” robotic check-out uses RFID tags to scan the items in a shopper’s basket, and then even bags the groceries automatically. (RFID tags are thin, small electronics components that wirelessly communicate within a short distance.)

Panasonic’s robotic check-out is somewhat similar to Amazon Go’s concept store in Seattle. However, with Reji-Robo, customers get a sensor-equipped basket when they walk into the stores, then choose items and place them into the smart basket. In a step beyond Amazon Go, the Panasonic basket once placed in to the robotic check-out system, automatically computes the transaction, the bottom of the basket opens, and the items are automatically lowered into plastic bags for the shopper.

The RFID system also holds promise to speed up the supply chain, increase accuracy, improve productivity, and improve inventory control and tracking.

What’s in your basket?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss some of the more frustrating and costly parts of retail and shopping.
  2. Show the Panasonic video: https://youtu.be/Hpp-3Ver7ig
  3. If students are not familiar with Amazon Go, view the video and concept at: https://www.amazon.com/b?node=16008589011#
  4. Discuss the four primary marketing strategies: market penetration, market development, product development, and diversification.
  5. Which strategy is Panasonic using for this product? Why?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select one of the four different strategies and explain why that strategy could be used to market robotic check-out systems.

Source: Brandchannel.com

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Sharing Happy Hour with Pets

Americans increasingly treat pets as more than just an animal or belonging – we treat our pets as important members of the family. Pet owners now look for healthier choices and lifestyles for pet care, fundamentally shifting consumer behavior and spending. The pet care industry represents more than $20 billion in the U.S., and, according to Nielsen Research, 95% of pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family. This attitude carries over into shopping for food, treats, toys, and specialty items.

Therefore, it was just a matter of time for companies to develop new product so that humans could share celebrations and happy hour beverages with their pets. The newest category of product is faux wines for cats (and dogs, too)! With clever names and packaging, the category is expanding. People can buy their kitties bottles of “Catbernet,” “Pinot Meow,” and “Meowgarita” from Denver-based Apollo Peak. Or, buy “Dog Perignon” and “Dogtini” from Pet Winery in Fort Myers, Fla.

Of course, since alcohol can harm animals, these wines are actually alcohol-free. Using organic ingredients and catnip, the beverages are aimed at people who want to enjoy celebrations with their pets. But, as most cat owners know, cats can be quite finicky. In taste tests, some cats loved the products, while other cats simply showed their disdain.

Happy hour, meow?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How many have pets? How much do they spend on their pets?
  2. Show the Web site for Apollo Peak: http://www.apollopeak.com/
  3. Also show Pet Winery: https://www.petwinery.com/
  4. Videos can be viewed at:

https://youtu.be/g1b4V_DJ-oo

  1. The Chew: https://youtu.be/4DiO8MZTmnU
  2. Divide students into teams.
  3. Using a market-product grid, have students develop target markets for pet owners. Then, put categories of products across the top (Ex: food, toys, treats, wine…)
  4. Which target markets represent the best opportunity for pet wines?
  5. How should the products be marketed?

Source:  New York Times, Nielsen Research

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Self-Driving Minivan from Waymo and Chrysler

chrysler

It seems that we can’t get enough of self-driving vehicles. The technology keeps advancing rapidly, and now technology and automotive companies are teaming up to bring self-driving cars to the roads as soon as possible. Recently, Waymo (the self-driving car company spun-off from Google) and Fiat Chrysler announced that they are ready to deploy a fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans at the end of January.

Waymo is making all of the technology itself, building the cameras, sensors, and mapping technology. This work is bringing technology costs down by approximately 90% – from $75,000 in 2009 to $7,500 today. Working with Fiat Chrysler to integrate technology with the car’s architecture, the minivan is built with the specific mission of driving itself. Vehicles will take to the roads in another month in Mountain View, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz. (The roomy, seven-person minivan does have a steering wheel though as it is required by many state laws.)

The van is equipped with three rings of 360 degree LIDAR sensors to give the vehicle both long and short range vision, allowing vehicles to see objects that are very close as well as spot tiny objects that are farther away. Waymo stated that it has more than 2.5 million miles on self-driving cars, and an additional one billion miles in simulations.

Ready for a ride?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the video of the Waymo/Chrysler minivan:

https://youtu.be/SwsEn7P97nw

  1. Another video of an interview with the CEO of Waymo: https://youtu.be/-pO-MIHGlgc
  2. Discuss competition: What are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team compare Waymo’s minivan with a competitive product. What are the points of difference (what makes the product different from competition)?
  4. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  New York Times, The Verge, CNBC, CNET, other news sources

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