In Chapter 9 of Essentials of Marketing we talk about the new product development process. In the article “Facial gestures can move this AI-motorized wheelchair“, many elements of this process are covered when discussing a new motorized wheelchair that uses a 3D camera and artificial intelligence to recognize facial expressions and control the wheelchair based on those expressions. The new wheelchair is designed by Brazilian-based Hoobox Robotics in partnership with Intel. The article covers the target market for the new chair and also talks about some of the interesting findings discovered during user testing. It also talks about incentives to get customer feedback and an interesting pricing model (they’re planning on using subscription pricing rather than the traditional asset sale model). It’s a good reminder for students that even products that are highly technical require well managed marketing efforts if they want maximize their chance at success.
I’m a huge proponent of self-driving cars. While my in-laws find the concept of a computer driving us around terrifying, I find it liberating. After all, nearly all commercial aircraft are flown by computer (and in some cases they land and take off by computer as well). The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration found that an excess of 94% of all traffic accidents are primarily caused by human error. This topic in itself can lead to a rich class discussion.
Google, Apple, Uber, and other tech companies have led the charge in this space but traditional automobile manufacturers are starting to make progress with their roadmaps as well. This article talks about BMW’s current design concept for a self-driving electric car. What I particularly liked was the content talking about how they’re changing the design of the interior of the car since it no longer needs to be centered around a driver forced to look forward. Ask your students what the ideal self-driving car would look like on the inside. Does it look like the interior of a private plane or is it more utilitarian? Is it a portable living room with a large TV that can be watched by all occupants? As we move from human-driven to hybrid-driven and eventually to computer-only driven cars, what does that do to the product design? How does the adoption curve affect marketing strategies for this new category of cars?
Coca-Cola is looking at getting into the cannabis-infused drink business. You won’t be able to get high off the drink since it uses a non-psychoactive component (CBD) in marijuana. Nevertheless, the story is garnering a lot of media attention and Coca-Cola says the industry has significant potential. You can read more about the story here.
Ask your students to put together a marketing strategy for the new Coke drink. Who do they define as the target market? Why? Students often see themselves as the largest market segment for products that they like and this can be a good opportunity to push them to think more broadly. Beyond the target market, what would their marketing mix look like? How would they treat the cannabis component? Would they downplay it or make it front and center? Why? Would they have to implement new logistical processes or distribution channels? There are many different directions you could take this discussion.
Smartphones have become ubiquitous and with each new generation of phone and operating system we seem to be experiencing diminishing marginal returns. It’s getting harder and harder for phone manufacturers to find meaningful innovation to help propel replacement sales. Apple recently released their newest generation of phones and, along with it, their newest generation of their iOS operating system.
The Verge reviewed the new operating system (read more here) and while there are new features being added, the focus seems to be on performance, organizational tools, and behavioral controls. Tracking your screen time helps users understand and manage their iPhone addiction. A host of performance improvements should improve speed and stability, and developer tools open opportunities for the iOS community to innovate and deliver additional value over time.
Wendy’s and McDonald’s are once again competing for customers. The most recent efforts have centered around luring customers into installing their mobile apps. Wendy’s has been giving away free burgers to help promote use of their mobile app and now they’re using giveaways to promote both the app and their new Harvest Chicken Salad (read more here). Until October 7, customers can get a coupon for a free half-size salad if they download the Wendy’s app.
Given students’ propensity for free food this may be a good discussion on a number of fronts. This can fit into promotions, new product introduction, and even a pricing discussion if you want to talk about the impact of cannibalism on a product portfolio or have students calculate the number of return trips necessary for Wendy’s to break-even on the promotion.