As regular readers know, through this blog and the forthcoming 17th edition of Essentials of Marketing (publishing in February 2020) we have taken on the mission of highlighting organizations that are marketing for a better world (#M4BW).
In the next edition of Essentials of Marketing (publishing in early 2020), we created a neat new photo exhibit that clearly distinguishes between the terms individual product (“a particular product within a product line”), product line (“a set of products that are closely related”) and product assortment (“the set of all product lines and individual products a firm sells). We used Coca-Cola as the example. A thumbnail of that image is shown in this post.
While we are on the topic though, I saw an interesting article in my USA Today this morning. Over the last year, Ford Motor Company has been dropping some individual products and trimming product lines as it tries to rationalize its product assortment. Did I really just write that sentence? You know what I mean. And you will know more after you read “Ford kills the Flex,” (October 28, 2019). You may find this gives some interesting examples to share with the class when you cover Product.
A recent report from the Toy Association (you have to buy the report, but a short summary can be found here) suggests that millennial parents take values into account when buying toys for their children. For example a quote from the report indicates “Parents want to know that the products they buy will not harm the environment. Offering a toy that is biodegradable or an initiative that encourages toy sharing will appeal to today’s environmentally-conscious consumers.”
While there has always been a niche for sustainable toys (see for example a local-to-me company BeginAgain), the market is growing and now the world’s largest toy company is jumping in. Read more about LEGO’s new kit with pieces made from plant-based materials and how LEGO plans to have its products be entirely sustainable ty 2030 in “As millennial parents demand sustainable toys, Lego is perfecting plant-based bricks,” NBCNews.com, August 2, 2019).
An instructor might add this nugget of knowledge to students when discussing segmentation and targeting (Chapter 4). We open that chapter with a LEGO case, but this is so new, we don’t include the millennial parent segment in our discussion. It might also fit when you discuss Product (Chapter 8) and want a marketing for a better world spin on the topic.
It is always fun to show students product failures. Especially like those shown here. I think intuition alone would tell most of us that these were not such good ideas. But it is good for students to see that even big companies, with lots of money and smart people, can make mistakes.
You might want to add a few of these images to your coverage of product (Chapter 8) or new product development (Chapter 9). Colgate Lasagna (really?) could be used with the growth opportunity matrix in Chapter 2 as an example of why diversification is so risky. Or the Bic Her (pens designed for women) might be an example of segmentation and targeting gone too far.
Japan is concerned about how it will care for its elderly—especially those with dementia. The Japanese population is aging quicker than most of the world. Already, a quarter of the Japanese population is 65 or older (compared to just 15 percent of Americans). By 2025, Japan predicts a shortfall of almost 400,000 senior caregivers. Some companies are developing different intelligent agents to help fill the void.
Robots are particularly popular. Sony’s robotic pet dog Aibo, and SoftBank’s Paro, a robotic baby seal, have been shown to elicit emotional responses and yield benefits similar to live animal therapy (without all the owner responsibility). SoftBank Robotics’ humanoid companion “Pepper” recognizes faces and human emotions and asks and answers questions; seniors enjoy chatting with Pepper, which also monitors patients’ mental health for doctors and family members. Advances like these can provide health care at lower costs and make for better experiences for an aging world.
For some more background you can have your students read “Japan Lays Groundwork for Boom in Robot Carers,” The Guardian, February 5, 2018 and “Toyota, SoftBank Join Forces to Build Self-Driving Cars That Deliver Meals, Health Care,” Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2018 (subscription may be required).
This describes a demographic trend (part of context and the external market environment in Chapter 3). It might also tie into a discussion of market segmentation (Chapter 4) or product (Chapter 8).