Tag Archives: transportation

Bye, Bye VW Beetle

As marketers know, products have a life cycle that ranges from birth to decline. Every product eventually reaches its maturity stage where sales slow, and then it succumbs to a decline stage when the product is eliminated. Such is the case for virtually all products, including the indelible VW Beetle.

The Volkswagen Beetle has been around in some form since 1938, selling more than 24 million cars worldwide. The car was redesigned several times, most recently in the 1990s into the ‘new Beetle’. But now, VW has decided to pull the plug and will discontinue the iconic little car. As of 2020, no more ‘slug Bugs’ will be manufactured.

The Beetle was first introduced in the 1930s, designed by Ferdinand Porsche at the behest of Hitler and known as a “people’s car.” It has been immortalized in films such as Disney’s “The Love Bug” and was also known as a car for hippies hitting the road in the 1960s and 1970s. The Beetle had an iconic shape that was easily recognizable and has a front grill with headlight ‘eyes’ that looks like a smiling face. It’s easy to smile when looking at a Beetle.

There is a ‘final edition’ Beetle which sells for $23,000 – $27,000. And like all good things, there is an end.

R.I.P. VW Beetle. You will be missed.

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.
  3. Next, discuss the life cycle of automobiles and the VW Beetle.
  4. Visit the VW Web site at to view the final models: https://www.vw.com/models/beetle/section/overview/
  1. A video of VW Beetle manufacturing: https://youtu.be/McV7siceylU
  2. A farewell video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/uKuYXNLGlOc
  3. News video about the Beetle’s last ride: https://youtu.be/0C38YYmNiEQ
  4. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle or be reinvented for a new life.

Source:  Ad Age; Automobile Magazine; Business Insider; Car and Driver; Forbes; other news sources

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Tesla’s Cybertruck – Public Relations in Action

Students often wonder how public relations is used as a promotional tool. Compared to advertising – which is very transparent – public relations and news releases are hidden from the view of most consumers. Yet, public relations is a critical tool in the marketing toolbox. It is relatively inexpensive (compared to advertising), can be targeted to specific news outlets, can be easily focused on a specific geography and industry, is a simple way to “influence the influencers,” and it lends an aura of credibility when consumers read a story in the news.

Although public relations may look like independent news, all of the efforts are initiated by marketers in order to get attention from the media. Think of it this way: The target market is comprised of editors and writers for news releases, not the consumer. The news releases are focused on providing important information that the consumers of the media outlets want to hear about.

One company that stands above the rest when it comes to public relations is Tesla. The company is a non-stop news-making machine, headed by CEO Elon Musk.

  • Tesla uses social media extensively. It does not use traditional advertising, but instead relies on media coverage to help promote its products.
  • In November the company announced a live stream of an event in Los Angeles preceding the LA Auto Show, held at Tesla’s Design Center. This event launched the new electric Cybertruck, retailing for $39,900 – $69,900.
  • Tesla also provided information on its Web site about the new truck.
  •  In less than a week following the announcement, an estimated 150,000+ pre-orders (at $100 each) have been placed for Cybertruck, and there were millions of web hits and stories generated.
  • All this was accomplished with broken windows in the demonstration, but without a single paid advertisement!

So now tell us, where does news come from?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by discussing the value of public relations.
  2. A video of the news release distribution process can be seen at: https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/
  3. Use the ‘Tesla Cybertruck’ announcement as a PR example. Have students do a search on the phrase using their phones or laptops.
  4. How many hits are there? How many videos? Does the news expand to outside of the U.S.? What is estimated the dollar value of this reach?
  5. Compare the information in several articles with the information included on Tesla’s Web site: https://www.tesla.com/cybertruck
  6. Have students select a company or product. Then, have students find business articles in the news and trace the articles back to information provided by companies.

Source:  Bloomberg; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; CNN News; Wired magazine, other news sources

 

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UPS Drones Take to the Sky

Are drones finally ready for prime time? Can they deliver the goods? And how does this change delivery services around the globe?

We’re about to find out the answers to some of those questions as UPS recently announced that its drone airline, UPS Flight Forward, has received FAA certification to operate a drone airline. The service will initially support medical packages at hospital campuses around the country. The UPS drone has been in test mode for the past year at the WakeMed campus in Raleigh, N.C., where is has been delivering packages such as tissues and blood samples to different buildings on the campus.

UPS is not the first company to use drones to deliver medical supplies. Other companies outside of the U.S. have been using drones to deliver medical supplies such as vaccines in difficult to reach areas. Healthcare operations (and patients) directly benefit from shorter in-transit times. The FAA certification allows UPS to fly an unlimited number of drones with remote operators in command. The certification also allows for cargo to exceed 55 pounds and fly at night.

Let’s fly!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  2. Review UPS drone service.
  3. Show UPS drone video: https://youtu.be/xx9_6OyjJrQ
  4. The detailed business news announcement is available at: https://pressroom.ups.com/pressroom/ContentDetailsViewer.page?ConceptType=PressReleases&id=1569933965476-404
  5. Who are UPS’s competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for UPS’s new Flight Forward drone service.
  7. Have each team draw their map on the board.
  8. Debrief exercise.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Verge, Forbes, other news sources

 

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