Tag Archives: shopping

Aira Service at Target Stores to Help Visually-Impaired Shoppers

At this busy holiday season, consider the (seemingly) simple task of shopping done by an able-bodied consumer. Now consider the same shopping task for someone who has a visual impairment. It must be a much more complex and time-consuming process, and is likely often frustrating waiting for assistance from store employees. After all, not everything can, or should, be done online. For many purchases, shoppers want to feel materials, sniff the freshness of produce, or have more information about the item.

Enter a service from technology company Aira and combine it with Target’s retail stores. Aira connects people who are blind or have impaired vision with highly-trained professionals who help provide visual information on demand via smartphones or wearable devices. The service blends wearables and smart phones with artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Aira’s mission is to make visual information accessible to anyone, anytime, and anywhere.

Target’s accessibility team worked with Aira to deploy a pilot program to 600 Target stores in 13 different markets. Shoppers in those areas can use Aira for free on a smart phone to receive on-demand information while shopping. Shoppers sign on with the Aira app and connect with customer service agents working remotely. The agents use the phone’s camera to guide shoppers through the store and describe items in detail.

The Aira service is also available at more than 40 airports and major public transit systems and college campuses. Not only can Aira agents provide direction and information, they can also read ingredients on boxes, understand color options, and have graphics described.

Now that’s progress.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the consumer buying process.
  2. While the buying process may vary slightly for different products and target markets, the basic 5-step process remains the same: problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior.
  3. How does the process change for visually-impaired consumers?
  4. Show information about Aira: https://aira.io/
  5. Videos are available on the Aira video channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvTWpoo6BVrn2pOFreWQGGw
  6. Information on how to use Aira at Target: https://aira.io/target
  7. How should the Aira services be marketed?

 

 

Source:  Kumar, K. (6 December 2019). Target offers free service for visually impaired shoppers at 600 stores for holidays. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

 

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Naming a New Brand is Tricky!

How important is naming a new brand? It is absolutely critical – and also exceedingly difficult to accomplish. Marketers have to come up with a new name that represents the product’s value and attributes, AND be attractive to customers, AND it must not be taken by another company, AND is not too common a name, AND is not offensive to any population. Whew. No wonder so many companies use made-up words as brand names.

A recent case about the perils of naming a new brand was the ‘Kimono’ shapewear brand developed by celebrity icon Kim Kardashian West. Although the branding was rigorously researched, the ‘Kimono’ name was criticized globally as being offensive and profiting from a traditional clothing article that was a cultural symbol of Japanese heritage. The name had to go, along with the Kimono Web site, logo, labels, and more. More than two million garments will need to be relabeled so that no products are wasted.

The stakes are high for the new brand. The global women’s underwear industry is valued at approximately $83.3 billion and is still growing. It is also fragmented with new comers gaining market share at the expense of older more established brands. To her credit, Kardashian West listened to criticisms and has decided to change the name prior to releasing any product. (The new name has not yet been announced.)

What’s in a name? Everything!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students about their viewpoints on the Kimono name. Do they agree with the decision to change the name?
  2. Discuss competition: Who are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
  3. For ‘Kimono’ put students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis.
    1. Strengths: What is the company good at?
    2. Weaknesses: What needs work?
    3. Opportunities: What is going on in the marketplace that is positive?
    4. Threats: What factors should the company be wary of?
  4. Put students into teams. Have each team develop a new name for the Kimono brand.
  5. Post the names on the board and vote on a winner.

Source: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fast Company, other news sources

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Schick Buys Harry’s for $1.37 Billion

The shaving industry is cut-throat (no pun intended) with fierce rivalries between Schick, Gillette, Unilever, and P&G. A few years ago, Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club for more than $1 billion. The deal gave Unilever access to a new market of online consumers for men’s grooming products. Last year, Procter & Gamble bought Walker & Co. which markets Bevel, a shaving brand focused on black consumers.

Not to be left behind, Schick has now announced a similar type of deal, buying shaving company Harry’s for $1.37 billion. Harry’s has roughly 2.6% of the men’s shaving industry, with Schick at 10% and Dollar Shave Club at 8.5%.

Harry’s differs from Dollar Shave Club as it has retailers such as Target and Walmart stocking its products on their shelves in addition to online sales. Harry’s also launched Flamingo as a new women’s grooming brand.

Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s built a direct-to-consumer business model which has been enthusiastically embraced by shoppers. Prices are lower, and connections are more easily built between the brands and the shoppers.

Where do you buy shaving products?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where do they buy razors and grooming products? Approximately how much do they spend each month on these?
  2. Discuss competition: what are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
  3. View Schick’s Web site: https://www.schick.com/
  4. View Harry’s Web site: https://www.harrys.com/en/us
  5. View Flamingo’s Web site: https://www.shopflamingo.com
  6. View Bevel’s Web site: https://getbevel.com/
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team analyze the one of the shaving Web sites.
  8. What are the points of difference? Key messages? Target market?

Source: Associated Press. Schick owner buys Harry’s in new shaving war alliance. (9 May 2019).

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