Successful marketing depends on correct identification of consumer needs, developing a product that satisfies those needs, making marketing communications about the product to consumers, delivering the product, and exchanging the product with the consumer for value. The marketer has to develop the right product, which satisfies the discovered consumer needs for successful marketing to occur. The consumer, on the other hand, has to perceive benefits in a new product before making the choice to buy the product. This paper looks at the benefits that consumers are likely to derive from installation of satellite TV service in the back seats of cars, minibuses and SUVs. This is an innovative product whose success depends on the bundle of benefits that consumer perceive from the product. The paper also analyzes the factors that may spell doom in marketing the new product.
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TV Service and in the backseats of Cars, Minibuses and SUVs
Advances in satellite television technology have now made it possible for commuters and families to watch television while travelling. Earlier on, it was impossible to enjoy television service in these categories of vehicles, as it required mounting large satellite dishes, which could be supported by airplanes, large vehicles such as buses, boats, and ships. Today, a new antenna, mounted on the roof of the vehicle, has been developed that is able to receive signals of TV broadcasts from satellites orbiting the globe (Amo & Lars, 2005). This innovation has brought the home television experience into smaller vehicles and made travelling for passengers and families a luxurious undertaking.
Successful development of a new product depends critically on the ability of a firm to correctly identify consumer needs, its ability to develop a product that will satisfy the identified needs, and how the firm will package the new product in terms of price, promotion, distribution, etc. (Anderson, 2004). Customers’ perception of value in a new product is based on ability of the product to satisfy a previously unmet need, low pricing of the product in relation to substitutes, convenience offered by the product, and value-added services associated with the product such as before and after sale services. It is imperative for a firm to develop a unique value proposition, that is, the bundle of benefits that customers will reap from using the new product relative to competitor products, in order to succeed in bringing a new product innovation into the market. The value proposition also known as customer value should be inimitable by rival firms so that the firm can enjoy sustainable competitive advantage. New product offerings that do not meet the test of unique value proposition to customers often end up as failures in the market (Anderson, 2004). Consumers are rational and in order to buy a product, they need to perceive benefits in the product first.
Benefits of Integrating Mobile Satellite Television Systems into Cars, Minibuses, and SUVs. The integration of mobile satellite television systems into smaller vehicles such as cars, minibuses, and SUVs has several benefits to consumers who are mainly commuters and families using personal vehicles. This is a technological innovation, which meets a previously unsatisfied need of television entertainment for users of these vehicles. Besides being revolutionary, the new product has other unique benefits to consumers, which will most likely cause rapid market penetration for the product. On the other side, penetration of the product could be constrained by how the product will be packaged, environmental forces, physical factors, etc. (Amo & Lars, 2005). The benefits of TV service in smaller vehicles are discussed below:
Previously, travelling families and commuters had to forgo all television programming upon leaving home up until they returned. This was dissatisfying to TV users who would prefer to keep up with their favorite programs without interruptions. Alternatively, these consumers of television entertainment had to use the services of drive-in theatres if they wanted to continue enjoying television services while on travel. This required sacrificing a lot of travel time as well as money. This situation has changed with the introduction of TV service in smaller vehicles and users of the vehicles can now watch their favorite programs in the course of their travel. The new product innovation has made travelling a fun and exciting experience and many families and commuters could now prefer more instead of lesser travelling, which is advantageous especially to commuter service operators. The innovation also bears some benefits for TV stations in airing programs to their audiences since it increases the number of potential audience that views their programs. These stations now have the opportunity of targeting the travelling audience who use small vehicles, something that was not possible in the past (Anderson, 2004).
Families travelling with children sometimes find it a difficult experience due to the restless nature of children. Small children who are not preoccupied could prove to be a bad distraction especially to the vehicle driver and many times, parents usually avoid travelling with their children for this reason. The fact that satellite TVs incorporated in cars and other smaller vehicles are located in the rear seats provides a perfect preoccupation to small children who may be travelling with their parents or guardians while avoiding distraction for the driver from either the children or the television. The TV service also ensures that children do not experience boredom during travel by keeping them entertained and engaging their minds. Boredom has a negative effec on the psychological development of children and needs to be avoided as much as possible. There are various children TV stations that air their programs through satellite television such as Disney Channel. Satellite TV service has adequate content for this kind of audience and has made travelling with children a nicer experience for both parents and guardians (Amo & Lars, 2005).
Satellite television unlike conventional television, allows its users to receive a wide range of television channels since these channels are transmitted via global satellites. Hence, the users enjoy more variety in programming. In addition, most of the TV stations that air their content through satellite TVs happen to be well-reputed media companies and they are usually international entertainment firms (Anthony, Eyring & Gibson, 2006). Most of the content is, therefore, internationally accepted and of very high quality. Due to the global nature of the media companies, the channels supported by satellites TVs do not change from location to location.
Firms tend to differentiate their products based on several key dimensions. These dimensions include product quality, price, and nature of the product distribution system and customer service. A firm must prove superior to competitors in at least one of these dimensions in order to build a competitive advantage and sustain high performance in the marketplace (Amo & Lars, 2005). Mobile satellite TV systems are high quality electronic products that promise durability and high-definition performance. The quality of pictures and audio received by the TV systems is mesmerizing even to the developers and is a result of many years of research into satellite communications. Thus, one of the customer values that the innovation holds for users is the quality of the product. Apart from this, the product comes with several years of guarantee and warranties eliminating the consequences of the risk of non-performance on the part of customers. Other services offered for satellite TV products include free installation and low periodic maintenance charges.
Product functionality is part of the factors affecting the benefits that consumers derive from a product. Better performing products are perceived as more beneficial by consumer compared to less performing products. Mobile satellite television systems have more enhanced product functionality, which include enabling users to record some channels for later viewing while the users’ favorite programs are aired concurrently. This allows user to censor content, for example, content that is unsuitable for young children, sustained high quality signal that is independent of location, and ability to stay in operation for a long time-period. Another important functionality feature of the satellite TV is that it is utilizes technology that overcomes line-of-sight hindrances including overpasses and tunnels. These functional features of the mobile TV are part of the bundle of benefits that users reap from the innovation (Anderson, 2004).
Apart from the entertainment and product-related benefits, integration of satellite TV into smaller vehicles will have other informational benefits. Mobile satellite television system is an innovation, which is based on satellite communication technology (Anthony, Eyring & Gibson, 2006). The television system installed in the vehicles could be used to relay other useful information to users of these vehicles as part of product value-addition. Example of information that could be useful to users of cars, SUVs, and minibuses who are targeted by the innovation is data about the traffic situation on the routes plied by the users. This information would help the users to avoid the congested roads and enable them reach their destinations faster and, at the same time, ensure that there is a balance in vehicle traffic among all the roads. Other relevant information that could be relayed through satellite television systems fitted in the vehicles is weather data and forecasts.
Mobile satellite television systems fitted in vehicles also contain in-built global positioning systems (GPS). GPS systems use satellite technology to monitor the location of a vehicle on the globe and are very helpful in navigation. Thus, users of satellite TV do not only benefit from entertainment, but also have the ability to keep track of their vehicle location on real-time basis. GPS systems have a lot of value especially to those companies that operate fleets of commuter service vehicles since they are able to tell the exact location of their vehicles without having to follow them. This feature of satellite TV in smaller vehicles is more of a security element and makes the innovation more attractive, useful, and economical for users (Anthony, Eyring & Gibson, 2006).
Installation of satellite television into smaller vehicles has a compatibility advantage. Many cars, SUVs, and minibuses are equipped with flip-down screens for DVD players or navigation systems (Anderson, 2004). Thus, it takes only a few hours for retailers or dealers to install satellite TVs in these vehicles. The compatible nature of the TV systems makes them less complex to operate for users since most of them have had experience with DVD players and navigation systems, which are operated in a similar manner. Low operational complexity is one of the features that are bound to enhance acceptance of satellite TV among consumers and drive its market penetration.
Unlike the situation in the initial stages of the introduction of the satellite mobile TV technology for vehicles when it required a vehicle to have a lot of space due to the size of the installation device, technnology has been employed to make the device more compact which is easily installable. Due to the reduced size of the antennae, it is now possible to install it without interference with the vehicles aesthetics. This is expected to attract more consumers going into the future (Amo & Lars, 2005).
Due to advancement in technology, it is now possible to have a mobile TV device with internet services. This makes it possible for the consumer to have internet access while driving, away from home or office (Anderson, 2004). This is of great advantage importance as it contributes to enhanced access to information regardless of time and place. It also enhances mobile commerce due to the access to business related information, which is transmitted in real time through the satellite. Some mobile TV facilities also come with digital mapping features, which are of great help to the consumer in tracing important places while driving especially in places that they are not very familiar with. This is especially useful in Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs).
Factors that may Constrain Successful Marketing of the Product
The following are the main forces that would hinder a successful reception of the TV service in the backseats of cars, minivans, and SUVs:
Financial constrains: Though the TV service is a covetable facility, it is doubtlessly out of reach to the majority of citizens due to its high cost. The cost of installation and the recurring subscription fee are quite high which makes the facility a reserve for the financially sound individuals thus hindering its sales level (Anderson, 2004).
Government Policy:There may be unfavorable government policies banning the use of TV service in vehicles in a given country (Anderson, 2004). This is due to the presumed danger that the device pauses to users especially drivers. It is believed that the device is a tool of distraction to the driver, which can make him lose concentration leading to increased road carnage.
Poor reception: Some models of the automobile TV devices have poor reception especially in areas with tall buildings. This makes it difficult for customers who would wish to enjoy the facility while driving in the urban areas where there are likely to be tall buildings but they cannot until they move out. This may be a great setback especially when the user wanted to some crucial traffic updates which would be of paramount importance especially while moving within an urban setting (Anthony, Eyring & Gibson, 2006).
Safety consideration: The government’s unfavorable policy notwithstanding, the TV seatback service for vehicles may not be popular with a section of the potential market due to the presumed danger it would pose to their lives (Anderson, 2004). This prevents them from buying the device regardless of whether or not the device is banned in their county.
Social reasons: The use of the device may be perceived to deny people of the invaluable opportunity to interact, socialize, and share ideas. It seems to be the substitute of this thus weakening the social fabric of a people (Anderson, 2004). This may be a costly affair as it may not be possible to quantify the loss incurred in not being able to share ideas, not being able to make new friends, or not being able to discuss and solve a problem due to the distraction by the mobile TV service in vehicles. It robs children, for instance, the opportunity to bond with their parents/guardians while travelling as they concentrate on the TV.
Vandalism: Potential buyers, especially in the public transport sector, sometimes are reluctant to invest in the mobile TV technology due to vandalism by the uncaring public (Amo & Lars, 2005). This is especially so since the initial cost of installation is quite high so one is extremely careful not to lose a fortune in something that can be avoided. The obtrusiveness of the satellite antenna, because of its big size, has also been keeping potential customers at bay due to aesthetic considerations.
Having discussed the above, some efforts have been made to overcome some of the challenges. Concerning the safety issue, for instance, it is now possible to have a satellite TV device with accessories such as headphone In order to ensure that the person enjoying the facility does not distract the driver. Technology has also been stepped up to overcome the challenge of poor reception while driving along places with tall buildings, like urban centers. The size of satellite antenna has greatly reduced and can now appeal to the aesthetic conscious customers. This adds value to the product hence making it more appealing to the customers.
The introduction of satellite TVs in the backseats of cars, SUVs and minibuses is a revolutionary innovation that is bound to attract a lot of attention from consumers. The product promises various benefits to consumers among them enabling consumer to watch their favorite programs while travelling, making it easier for parents and guardians to travel with their children, providing more channel variety and higher quality audio and pictures, more enhanced TV functionality features, global positioning system facility, etc. On the other side, there are potential factors that may stand in the way of successful marketing of the new product innovation. Among them are financial constraints, unfavorable government policies, poor product reception by customers, safety concerns, social reasons and vandalism. Overall, the benefits of the technological innovation seem to outweigh the potential constraints. Thus, the innovation is very likely to be a success and to generate a lot of buzz in the consumer entertainment market.