The Internet of Things (IOT), which we cover in one of our What’s Next? boxes (see Chapter 8) offers some promising consumer benefits. IOT connects devices (your sprinkler system, coffee pot, thermostat, and more) to the Internet. From there, the devices get smart — so for example, your sprinkler system sees there is a 90% chance of rain today and so it doesn’t water the lawn for the next three days. Yet there are tradeoffs as consumers lose privacy. This short (less than 3 minute) Bloomberg video can be assigned to students or shown in class to stimulate discussion. It might work well with Chapter 8 as you discuss Product or in Chapters 7 or 19 where we dig more deeply into privacy.
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.