Experts say that the key to selling a product is to emphasize on the differences of the product and service from that of its competitors. They stress that the product must be different from the existing products already being sold in the market for it to be appreciated by the consumers. The Segway Human Transporter fits the definition of innovation insofar as product differentiation is concerned. When it was launched in 2001 by entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen, it was described as “bigger than the Internet and almost as big as cold fusion would have been” (Ian Shoales, 2002, p. 1)
It earned the name Segway from the word ‘segue’ which means ‘to transition smoothly from one state to another. ’ Since around 80% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, it was project that the company will be able to sell 50,000 to 100,000 units in its first year. However, after three years of marketing, the company has sold less than 10,000 units – far below its expectations (Dawn Kawamoto, 2003, p. 1). This research paper seeks to investigate on the reasons why Segway has failed to live up to its projected sales.
The objective is to be able to suggest means to correct the mistake of the inventors and makers of Segway. Review of Related Literature 1. According to Dean Kamen, the Segway Human Transporter will transform the way people work and live (“Inventor Dean Kamen Introduces the Segway(TM), The World’s First Dynamic Self-Balancing Human Transporter”, 2001, p. 1) It was the world’s first self-balancing, electric-powered transportation machine. Moreover, it was supposed to enhance the public’s mobility as the transporter is slim, can go wherever a person can walk, and faster and with less effort.
Its inventors once said that the human transporter will some day take the place of motors bikes and other means of transportation. 2. According to Jesse Noyes (2006), Segway was not properly packaged and sold in the market. When Segway was launched in 2001, the marketing was exclusively focused on a limited and narrow market. “But today a Segway is more novelty item than transportation mainstay. Units mostly sell with niche markets, such as police forces, security teams and retirees.
” (Jess Noyes, 2006, p. 1) Instead of offering the product to a bigger market, it was marketed only to business establishments, manufacturing plants, and warehouses. 3. According to Sara Ivry, since its product launch in 2001, Segway has only periodically popped up in newspaper reports that “treat it as a novelty toy for the rich and geeky. She added that in 2006, the company launched two new machines known as the i2 and the x2 which cost $4,995 and $5,495, respectively. 4.
According to Bill Schweber (2005), for the first 21 months of its operation only a total of 6,000 units have been sold. In 2004, only 10,000 have been sold. Bill Schweber attributed the poor sales to Segway’s high price, limited applicability and legal concerns. 5. Based on its website, the Segway Human Transporter offers benefits and advantages not found in other products. Among these advantages are: a) convenience; b) low operating costs; c) reliability and durability; d) environmental safety;