Zapper: Zapping Away the Annoying Sounds of Modernity
One of the most annoying aspects of modern life is the inability to find peace and quiet. Our entire lives are filled with noise, and our only respite is often turning up the volume on our own iPods. Zapper provides a solution to this problem of over-stimulation. The Zapper is a small device that can literally 'zap' away unwanted noise, spanning from background noise in a shopping mall to the loud phone conversation of your neighbor on train. In the workplace, it can give the customer a 'home away from home,' enabling him or her to find solitude amongst noisy coworkers. At home, it allows harried mothers and fathers to escape the loudness of a child's video game.
Consumers have had to resort to a variety of techniques to separate themselves from annoying, distracting sounds. Some people use earplugs; others use noise cancellation headphones. However, these technologies can be cumbersome and irritating. Moreover, many are not completely effective. Zapper promises an efficient way for consumers to find a respite from the near-constant noise pollution to which they are subjected to daily.
Noise pollution can cause psychological distress and have profound physiological consequences. "When we are exposed to harmful noise - sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time - sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). These sensitive structures, called hair cells, are small sensory cells in the inner ear that convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back" (Noise pollution, 2012, UMDMJ). Zapper is not merely a convenience product; it can have significant health benefits.
Strategic mission statement
The Zapper will strive to make the world a more harmonious and peaceful place by enabling people to find quiet even in the hustle and bustle of modern life. It gives people control in an area where they may feel that they lacked it previously: the ability to decide what they hear and what they do not want to hear.
Although Americans feel that it is difficult to find peace and quiet in their everyday lives, quite often Japanese people are even more afflicted by a lack of personal space. Japan is a densely-populated, largely urbanized nation and even apartments are small and provide little space for people to have solitude. The Zapper would be an ideal way for residents of Japan to find quiet in an unquiet world: even sitting next to fellow commuters on train, near neighbors in small spaces with paper-thin walls, or living with close family members in tiny quarters.
Although Japan is one of the most overcrowded nations on earth in its cities, it also values peace and serenity, as can be seen in its culture of tea ceremonies, rock gardens, and other aesthetic structures that attempt to create beauty and tranquility. With the Zapper, a Tokyo resident could gain a sense of Zen calm in the midst of a subway car packed like a sardine can. The Japanese are also noted 'early adaptors' of technology, so the newness of the Zapper as a device would be a great potential asset.
Potential audiences for a marketing plan and the needs of those potential audiences
Urban dwellers would be the most likely initial audience for the Zapper. In urban settings, it is far more difficult to find 'quiet time.' Urban residents are more likely to live in apartments, travel on public transportation, and lack sufficient access to places where they can 'enjoy the silence' of solitude. Even in solitude, they may find themselves subjected to the blaring horns of buses, arguments of other pedestrians, and loud music blasting from cars and from people's iPods turned up full blast.
Employees at workplaces that were exposed to noise because of their location would also be an audience. In search of quiet and focus in compressed cubicles, or located near construction sites, they might reach for the Zapper. Students living with noisy roommates in college might also find a use for the Zapper. It is not uncommon for one roommate to be extremely noisy; the other to be very quiet and the Zapper would be one way for the two extreme personality types to be able to function together.
However, the applicability of the Zapper is not limited to these situations. "The humming of a refrigerator is 45 decibels, normal conversation is approximately 60 decibels, and the noise from heavy city traffic can reach 85 decibels. Sources of noise that can cause NIHL include motorcycles, firecrackers, and small firearms, all emitting sounds from 120 to 150 decibels. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss" (Noise pollution, 2012, UMDMJ).
The dominant marketing segment is that of young, urban dwellers that must still spend a substantial amount of time in public rather than private, enclosed areas. Students seeking study time and workers in busy and overcrowded workplaces would form subsets of this youth-oriented segment.
However, there are other potential markets in addition to this segment. Parents of young children might desire the ability to make the room quiet, after lulling their child to sleep. They might want to 'cancel out' the background sounds of their children's play, such as loud video games and toys. Older people, unused to the noise of modern life might want to use the Zapper to experience a sense of calm.
Noise-related hearing loss is also of great concern within specific demographic groups, such as people who work in the construction industry and rock musicians. "Exposure occurs in the workplace, in recreational settings, and at home. Recreational activities that can put someone at risk for NIHL include target shooting and hunting, snowmobile riding, woodworking and other hobbies, playing in a band, and attending rock concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and shop tools" (Noise pollution, 2012, UMDMJ). The Zapper's silencing effect can help people with NIHL preserve their hearing, and help people in at-risk occupations avoid hearing loss in the first place. "Approximately ten percent of Americans between ages 20 and 69 - or 26 million Americans - already may have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive noise exposure" (Noise pollution, 2012, UMDMJ).
The Zapper will be used by people who are involuntarily in public spaces a great deal and are involuntarily exposed to noise or who do not have ready access to a private space where they can enjoy their time noise-free.
The Zapper has both psychological and physical benefits. Psychologically, being subjected to unwanted noise can be extremely stressful. It results in a sense of 'losing control' and the Zapper provides a sense of control once again to the consumer. It fulfills a need that is currently unmet in many people's lives. It is less cumbersome than noise-cancelling earphones and it does not provide 'white noise' like background music, which itself can be annoying.
People may still prefer to use music to drown out unpleasant sounds and not see the value of the Zapper. The technology is new and unfamiliar and people may be uncertain of how it will work.
As modern life grows increasingly pressured and urbanized, people are looking for a place of calm. Because people are working more hours, they often do not have a great deal of time to spend alone. The Zapper enables them to have some calm and 'alone time.'
Given the concern about hearing loss, especially in young people, and the new level of public awareness about noise pollution, the Zapper can work with public health organizations to raise awareness about the dangers of noise-related hearing loss and position itself as a 'healthy'…