Tag Archives: Product innovation

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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The Power of Play – Innovation in Toys

Innovation comes in many forms. It can range from very complex high technology products such as robots and self-driving cars, to relatively simple toys and dolls. Nonetheless, even when simple, innovation and imagination are powerful forces. They help to fuel learning and expand thinking.

Consider a somewhat humble product – the Barbie doll. Barbie is getting up there in years and is approaching 60 years on the toy market. Yet, instead of being seen as old-fashioned, the doll has changed greatly over the years. Barbie has changed in shape, size, color, and profession. In past years, Barbie has had careers including nurse, teacher, fashion model, and princess. But now she is much more. Barbie is now an engineer, an Olympic athlete, a legendary pilot, mathematician, chef, and artist.

In its latest incarnation, Barbie follows the lead of other female trailblazers and has a new personas as the first female actor to portray Doctor Who, the time-traveler lead of the popular BBC TV series, and the alien-hunting FBI Agent Dana Scully of the X-Files. This takes her far beyond her fashion and beach days and brings her into the current era of strong female leaders.

Who should Barbie become next?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage. Make sure to include various toys and Barbie dolls.
  3. Discuss Mattel’s new additions to the Barbie product line. How does Mattel maintain its position on the PLC using Barbie products?
  4. Show the Web site: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/new-barbies
  5. Show the Dr. Who doll: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/doctor-who-barbie-doll-fxc83?sf93512412=1
  6. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to move into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Miller, S. (9 October 2018). Barbie adds Doctor Who, Dana Scully and more to its growing roster of modern icons. Advertising Age.

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Hi-Tech Fitness

Hate working out? It can be such a hassle – there is travel time, using equipment with other sweaty people, showering in messy locker rooms, and not getting enough personal training attention to make a difference. But still, fitness and health are important. What can be done differently to make workouts more enjoyable and fulfilling? Where’s the technology?

Enter Tonal: a San Francisco-based start-up company that aims to revolutionize how people workout by using high-tech to reinvent the workout system. The innovative product and service combines unique hardware, software, and an interactive LED screen to create a workout experience that doesn’t rely on old-school barbells and plates. Tonal can even sense when a workout is too easy, and add more weights for the next set to set the right level of difficulty.

Tonal is high-tech and effective, but not cheap. The machine itself is $2,995, plus custom smart accessories at $495, and a monthly subscription of $49 per month for 12-months minimum. The Tonal system mounts to a wall (similar to flat-screen TV). For the optimal experience, the system only needs access to a 7-foot by 7-foot space. Tonal measures reps, sets, range of motion, time under tension, power, and volume. The monthly subscription provides expert coaching via video with step-by-step instructions.

No pain, no gain.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students:Where do they work out? How much do they spend on gym memberships? On equipment?
  2. View Tonal’s Web site: https://www.tonal.com/
  3. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  4. For Tonal, what is the target market?
  5. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for Tonal. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  6. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  New York Times

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