Segway is a brand that failed to take a position and communicate clearly the What of the brand.
According to Wikipedia, Segway is ‘a two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter’ . The problem is apparent: it is not possible to relate Segway to anything we know. Until a brand can be related to something people know, the brand keeps drifting in the brain – trying to find a category to ground itself.
Below is the hompage from March 2002. Segway is welcoming visitors to ” the evolution in mobility” without explaining What the product is.
When diving into the “Segway HT” section the focus is on communication what the product does “Human Transporter” and the benefits “that functions like an extension of you”. Also on this page it is still unclear what the Segway exactly is. Human Transporter comes close, but nobody would say “hey, can you get my human transporter?”
After almost 20 years of trying to convince people to buy a Segway, the company decided in June 2020 to stop making the product. FastCompany wrote, ‘Exclusive: Segway, the most hyped invention since the Macintosh, ends production’.
The expectations at launch were enormous :
‘Its inventor, Dean Kamen, famously predicted in a 2001 Time magazine interview that the Segway ‘will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.’ In the same story, venture capitalist John Doerr predicted the company would be the fastest ever to reach $1 billion in sales.’
Unfortunately the company failed to create a clear need by explaining the What of Segway. Those who bought Segway would likely not refer to it as the ‘human transporter’, ‘personal transporter’, or the ‘two-wheeled self-balancing personal transporter’.
What Segway could have done is to stay closer to what people already knew and were familiar with at the time of launch. Explore a variation of the scooter category, promote the What and create a need by showing how people benefit from the new category and with that, the Segway.
This article is from the book Win With What – the first category-led growth book for anyone who wants their business to thrive and survive.
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