Gas prices are putting the squeeze on economy right now, and many brands have taken a noticeable hit on the balance sheet. (Whole Foods anyone?) But this economic shift doesn’t seem to be weighing everyone.
In his book BrandSimple, Allen Adamson wrote of how the Segway is an innovative product with clear differentiation. There was only one problem. No relevance. Consumers didn’t see a need for it. Allen describes Segway’s demise like this,
Investors expected hundreds of thousands of these two-wheeled power scooters for adults to be sold, generating billions of dollars in sales in the first year. In reality, Segway sold only ten thousand units in its first years and is still trying to overcome an identity crisis. High price, not enough power, bans in urban centers, and problems with being able to balance the vehicle properly made it the revolution that wasn’t….Coming up with a brand difference and determining if the audience will find it relevant means looking beyond your own delight.
It’s been reported that only about 30,000 Segways were sold in 6 years, from it’s launch in 2001 through 2007. But could rising gas prices help Segway do a 180?
Just today I saw two Segways in action, and both replaced a previous gas powered vehicles. The first Segway was a policeman patrolling downtown Oklahoma City for parking violations. The second was at Penn Square mall. The mall has replaced the parking lot security vehicle with a security guard patrolling on a Segway. I think this is a great idea. The view from the Segway will close up a lot of the blind spots faced by a guard patrolling in a security car.
Could it be that rising gas prices are just the boost the Segway brand needs to reach the zen of consumer relevance? Maybe it was a product before it’s time.
What do you think?
Photo via: Sacbee