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Promoting differentiation in a mature market

Bloomberg’s short article/interview entitled “A Folding Bike Helmet That Looks Good and Still Shields Your Brain” shows inventors can still find room to innovate, even in a mature product market.  Spanish inventor, Carlos Ferrando, created a bike helmet that has two unique features – it collapses/folds to reduce space when not in use, and it is designed to be more aesthetically appealing than the traditional bike helmet.  Ferrando said he wants his helmet to “normalize the idea of wearing one (bike helmet) as a fashion accessory”.

Ask your students who they think the target market for this product would be.  If they say “bicycle riders” push them to go deeper.  It’s true that anyone who rides a bicycle could benefit from this product but a mass market strategy is unlikely to be as successful for a product like this.  A segmented strategy has a better chance of success.  In chapter 4 we offer a possible market segmentation for the bicycle-riders product-market.  If students believe this product could effectively serve multiple segments you might want to break them into groups and have each group focus on a particular segment.  Ask each group to develop a promotional strategy for their target market.  After a few minutes have each group share their strategy and discuss the differences.  If the students did a good job there should be distinct strategies for each market.  If the strategies are generally similar then they’ve taken a “Combiner” approach which doesn’t really cater to the unique attributes of each segment.  Either way, you have a good discussion!


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