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The diffusion of a product is a multidisciplinary topic demanding consideration of the operation, marketing and protection from competitors.

  1. The challenges of marketing a radically innovative product  
    • Roger's theory of the diffusion of a product
    • Product push / market pull
  2. The operational challenges of producing/manufacturing the radically innovative product
  3. How vulnerable the product is to being copied and appropriate protection.
  4. The extent to which digital media is an appropriate medium for marketing an innovative product.

Challenges of marketing the Swash brand

The swash is a radical innovative product which was developed by Whirlpool, Proctor and Gamble. It was launched in the US in 2014. It’s a home clothing care system which reduces wrinkled, refreshes fabric as well as restores the fit lost by the clothes after wearing. All this is accomplished by the machine just ten minutes after the push of a button. The system is designed in such a way that it can fit in the closet or the bedroom. Its application allows the users to reduce ironing, save on dry cleaning as well as preserve the clothes.

The swash system is composed of an integrated tension system that gently hold clothes in place while a uniquely designed solution is applied to them by an advanced spray technology. Afterwards a rapid thermal drying system combining of express heat arrangement made of airflow recirculation dries the clothes.

The research was designed to use the Swash as an example of a radical innovation and assess the possibility of the new product being accepted in the market.

In the report first the topic is defined which is followed by critical assessment of the business situation. Under this the challenges of marketing the product, operational challenges, vulnerability of the product to copying and the extent to which digital media is appropriate for marketing the product will be assed. Afterwards the findings were analysed and conclusions drown (Robert Reichardt, 1961).

Some of the major challenges which will face the marketing of the Swash sill be: Determining the cost-effective market segments and the one easy to reach, this is normally a challenge as to obtain a market with both the features will need alit of data evaluation when. But for the case of the Swash the consumer feedback is yet to be observed.

Also, obtaining the market segment with the optimum value potential for the company will not be an easy task for the marketers. A large and profitable market segment may take a considerable time to identify.

The theory of production diffusion by Roger’s is one of the oldest social sciences theory. It aims at explaining how a newly invented product gain momentum and spreads through a social system. The result of the diffusion is people accepting to adopt the new product.

The adoption of a new product in a social system is not a simultaneous process rather some people are more willing to accept the usage of the new product than others. Based on previous research those who adopt an innovation at the early stages differ in characteristics to those who adopt it later. So, to successfully promote an innovation, it is important to understand the nature of the primary target group who will go ahead and spearhead the adoption of the product to the entire social system. The adopter categories are classified in to five, so when promoting the use of a new innovative product there need to understand and apply the best strategy to appeal to each category (Rogers, 2003).

Roger’s theory of product diffusion

Innovators: this is a group of individuals with the will to explore and try the innovation. There are risk takers and need little persuasion to accept the new product.

Early adopters: they represent opinion leaders and enjoy leadership responsibilities and accept opportunities brought about by change. There are generally aware of the new to adopt new innovations and the only strategies of appealing to them is the manual guidelines. Less information is needed to convince them to use the new product.

Early majority: these group are not leaders but provided they see the evidence that the new product is effective they will be willing to change their consumption behaviours to accept it. Success stories and evidence of the innovation’s effectiveness will be vital to appeal to them.

Late majority: they are sceptical to changes and will only accept to adopt a product once the majority have tried it out successfully. For them to be convince the marketer need to avail information of how many other people have tried the product successfully.

Laggards: is a group bound by traditions and beliefs they very conservative to change and are very hard to convince to adopt the new technology. For them to be convinced strategies involved will be statistics on the performance of the product and pressure from the members of the other adopter categories (Rogers, 1962).

                             

Diagrammatic explanation of Roger’s theory of product diffusion (LaMorte, 2016).

The point at which an individual adopts an innovation and so diffusion is regarded to be completed include awareness of the innovation need, adopt or reject decision, initial consumption to experiment lastly continued use. The listed are the main factors that influence the adoption decision and they play different roles to each adopter category.

Relative advantage: how is the innovation better than the existing product.

Compatibility: the consistency of the new idea to the values, experience as well as needs of the users.

These factors should be analysed by collecting adequate information from the consumers and making sure the product is designed in favour of them. During the marketing of the product the firm should avail adequate information including experimentations to convince a bigger market to accept adopting the product (Toubia, 2003).

The term push strategy defines the actions taken by the manufacturer to avail the Swash to the consumers. It may include setting up distribution channels as well as convincing the middlemen to stock his goods. For new products to be exposed and reach the retail outlets there is need by the businesses to implement push strategies to enable this, once the objective is achieved the pull strategies are integrated (Cf. M. Dell, 1999).

Pull strategies is the consumers demand for the Swash which is characterised by retailers placing orders for the product. Pull strategy needs a highly visible brand which is generated by mass media advertising (Srinivasan, 1988). Its aim is to create the demand for the product.

Product push and market pull

For a marketing strategy to be a success there is need to incorporate both the push and pull strategies (Cf. M. Christopher, 2000). For the Swash brand to be sold through retailers there is need to develop brand awareness and persuade the retailers to stock the product. Provided the product is designed around the consumer both the push and pull strategies will be achievable (Kelley, 2012).

Operation managers face several challenges in their quest to manage the production of the Swash brand. For instance, the role of the operations manager requires them to have a good knowledge of the business flow, the product, consumers and the operational technology but the Swash is yet to be rooted in the market nor do consumers have enough knowledge concerning it. This makes the managers underprepared to take on challenges that come their way while dealing with the products manufacturing operations.

Globalization. With the world transformed into a global village by the emergence of technology firms are facing stiffer competition from the international firms. For this purpose, it’s upon the operational manager to ensure that he carries out planning, organisation and control effectively to keep the product in the market (Srinivasan, 1973). On the other hand, the Swash brand has the target of satisfying the global market as well for this purpose the operational manager need to have adequate knowledge regarding those markets such as the standards needed of the product as well as the culture of the people in the other nations (Urban, 1996).

To overcome this challenge the operation manager, need to define the brand of the product with unique features and a target a specific market which will enables him to maintain the uniqueness of the product and hence boost his international competitiveness

For a product to be able to attract the consumers it need to be supplied in the right quantity be of the required quality and at affordable prices. This feature often trade of and it’s upon the operational manager to come up with a mix that satisfying the consumer needs. The Swash brand will thus be a challenge to produce as there is lack of enough information to help in making these decisions

This dilemma can be solved by creating an integrated information system to help gather enough information as well as avail to the consumer’s adequate information regarding the product so that they can try it and give appropriate feedback.

Introduction of the Swash come with new requirements in terms of knowledge and skills. The operation manager may have to train the available workforce to take on the new jobs resulting from the innovation. Also, he can employ more people to offer the new services. The problem is the new idea may not yet be in the educational system curriculum and hence he may lack employees to put it in place. On the other hand, some of his most trusted workforce may not be interested in the new idea and hence choose to seek employment elsewhere, this leaves the manager with the dilemma of working with a new bunch of employees. This group may not understand his objectives and policies and hence slow down chances of meeting the targets (Dolan, 1981).

Operational challenges of producing the Swash

To ensure reliability in the supply of the Swash there is need to establish a reliable source of raw materials. Since the product is still new there may be need to put own your own raw material processing sector as the market may still lack a reliable supplier or producers of the required raw materials. Further it’s upon the firm to ensure that the entire process from raw material processing o actual production of the new product is environmentally friendly and any waste resulting from the plant is tasted appropriately to ensure any toxins generated by the process is disposed of appropriately as per the environmental policies (Bachoo, 2016).

Any product which is succeeding in the market is prone to copycats. Whenever a new product idea is incubated and successfully implemented cloners and other people will emerge and imitate the idea. To avoid the investing risks resulting from the eroding market benefits brought about by copying of the product investors prefers companies with strong competitive resilience or the companies operating on markets with strict entry requirements. This is not the case with market segment of the Swash. Its therefore very vulnerable to possible copying by other players or new entrants in the industry. For firms to be profitable they need to be very innovative but in many occasions copying other businesses becomes the norm of doing business (Ekekwe, 2012)

The use of new technology has made products more vulnerable to copying. Now the cost of producing copied products to be of quality and cheaper to produce. The contents of copied products are currently hard to differentiate from the genuine goods. The past quarter of the century have seen a rise in the counterfeiting of products, this is attributed to the rising technology which have withdrawn skill from the manufacturing. For now, most of the products worth are in its brand and the intellectual property with that the copying firms can deliver quality at a cheaper cost via the available technology without having to finance the huge expense of brand names (David M, 2003)

To minimise the loss of profits resulting from copying of products the innovators should take the listed measures.

Patent: this protects the Swash concepts, manufacturing methodology as well as its functionality. Patent protection covers a product irrespective of the appearance. Due to larger protection cover offered by patents obtaining is include a very strict, uncertain and expensive procedure

Registration of design. Design registration protects the appearance of the product. Even with it the product’s competitors can manufacture goods which perform similar functions as the Swash but with a different physical appearance. Design registration is easy and cheaper to acquire.

In addition to patent and registration of design the product is still vulnerable to copying as the copycats will always find a way to legally copy the product. To be safe it’s upon the firm to keep in touch with the consumers and ensure they respond to their needs in a way that minimises any gap that might give copycats entry into the market. Also, the firm should continuously research and come up with new ideas that will keep them way ahead of the new firms entering the market through copying.

Contract agreement such as non-disclosure which commits your workmates to confidentiality is also an effective protective approach. Furthermore, there are work for hire agreement which gives the innovator ownership of any development to his product brought about by an employee working for him. Furthermore, there is the non-compete agreement that prevent any person you contact to assist work on your product from launching a competitive product within an area specified in the agreement (Key, 2013).

The above approaches if implemented effectively can help the innovators minimise the losses brought about by competition from firms who still others business ideas.

Conclusion

The Swash being a new technology is expected to follow the Roger’s product diffusion theory. Based on the stages of diffusion and the uniqueness of consumers in these stages the innovators can take the appropriate measures such as availing the product for experience by the innovators, writing product manual to allow the early receptors make use of it. In addition, the early majority should be availed with enough information to avail them see the workability of the product afterwards the information on the people use of the product and their success in doing so should be given to the late majority so that they can make up their mind. For the case of the laggards it is upon the business to put up persuasive advertisements in the media and convince them to move from their social beliefs and accept the new changes that adopt and enjoy the new features generated by the newly invented product.

In addition to these actions the introduction of the Swash should be accompanied by push strategies such as persuasive advertisements to instil demand and convincing the retailers to accept and stock their products to ensure reliability in supply. Also, the firm can set up a supply chain that ensures the targeted market access their products. These will generate the requited pull factors that will help the product makes its way through the market and allow consumers experiment and be able to adopt or reject its use.

The profitability and diffusion of the Swash will however be affected by counterfeit goods resulting from copying firms, to minimise this loss, the firm should ensure it access necessary legal protection. Such protection will be acquiring patents as well as register the product design.

References

Bachoo, T., 2016. What are some of the challenges facing Operations Managers today?. [Online] Available at: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-challenges-facing-Operations-Managers-today [Accessed 24 May 2017].

Cf. M. Christopher, D. T., 2000. ‘Supply Migration from Lean and Functional to Agile and Customized’, in Supply Chain Management. An International Journal, 5(4), pp. 200-213.

Cf. M. Dell, C. F., 1999. Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionised an Industry, London: Harpe Collins.

David M, H. L. T. K. a. M. T., 2003. Counterfeiting Exposed: How to Protect Your Brand and Market Share, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Dolan, R. J. a. A. J., 1981. Experience Curves and Dynamic Demand Models:Implications for Optimal Pricing Strategies,. Journal of Marketing, Volume 45, pp. 45-60.

Ekekwe, N., 2012. Harvard Business Review: When You Can’t Innovate, Copy. [Online] Available at: https://hbr.org/2012/05/when-you-cant-innovate-copy [Accessed 24 May 2017].

Kelley, B., 2012. Push or Pull Marketing for Innovations?. Innovation Excellence group, 6 November, pp. 1-6.

Key, S., 2013. Entrepreneur. [Online] Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226595 [Accessed 24 May 2017].

LaMorte, W. W., 2016. Behavioral Change Models. [Online] Available at: https://blog.leanmonitor.com/early-adopters-allies-launching-product/ [Accessed 24 May 2017].

Robert Reichardt, z. Z. P. N., 1961. Competition through the Introduction of New Products, USA: Econometric Research Program.

Rogers, E. M., 1962. DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS. 3 ed. New York: The Free Press.

Rogers, E. M., 2003. Diffusion of innovations. 5 ed. New York: NY: Free Press..

Srinivasan, V., 1988. A Conjunctive-Compensatory Approach to the Self-Explication of Multiattributed Preferences. Decision Sciences, Volume 19, pp. 245-295..

Srinivasan, V. a. A. D. S., 1973. Estimating the Weights for Multiple Attributes in a Composite Criterion Using Pairwise Judgments. Psychometrika, 38(4), pp. 400-450.

Toubia, O. D. I. S. J. R. H. a. E. D., 2003. Fast Polyhedral Adaptive Conjoint Estimation. Marketing Science, 22(3), pp. 184-300.

Urban, G. L. B. W. a. J. R. H., 1996. Premarket Forecasting of Really-New Products. Journal of Marketing, 60(1), pp. 40-65.

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