The term “world’s first” is a bold statement, but it’s also a risky one in today’s globalized business environment. However, Nova Scotia-based Spring Loaded Technology (SLT) made such a claim in June 2017. The company announced the launch of Levitation, the “World’s First Bionic Knee Brace.”

The term “world’s first” is a bold statement, but it’s also a risky one in today’s globalized business environment. However, Nova Scotia-based Spring Loaded Technology (SLT) made such a claim in June 2017. The company announced the launch of Levitation, the “World’s First Bionic Knee Brace.”

The company claims to have created a knee brace that provides and returns energy to a user’s knee. Claiming that previous attempts at bionic knee braces used a spring that was too heavy, too big, or not powerful enough, SLT notes in a YouTube video that the company “reinvented the spring through years of research, testing, design and innovative engineering.” The main benefits can be distilled down to reduced pain and redirection of energy to the user.

Beyond the claims by the company, consumer testimonials are powerful and wide-ranging. From an 85-year-old hockey player who wants to keep playing, to a young person with muscular dystrophy hoping to be able to walk longer, to a professional weight lifter—the Levitation device is front and centre solving consumer problems.

SLT has been successful on the fundraising front, from consumers to government. A campaign through Indiegogo raised over $200,000 to help fund the Levitation project, which was 278% of the $75,000 ask from CEO and founder of Spring Loaded Technology Chris Cowper-Smith. On June 9, 2017, the Government of Canada announced $2.46 million in financing through the Atlantic Canada Innovation Fund. Cowper-Smith stated excitedly after this announcement that the funding will allow for “…the next chapter in our journey to change and improve lives in a big way … We’re proud to be able to put the world’s first and only compact, bionic knee brace into the hands of consumers on a large scale.”

And it is the identity of these consumers where the efforts await SLT and its bionic knee brace. As the company’s videos assert, the Levitation can be helpful to anyone from a young person recovering from a sports injury to an octogenarian looking to stay active. However, it is precisely in this desire to satisfy everyone where SLT risks disappointing many. Often companies believe that their product is so helpful it is possible to simultaneously serve all markets.

The Levitation was tested with Canadian Armed Forces troops in 2016, leading to a $1 million deal. The specialized military brace costs almost twice as much like the one for regular customers, although the company no longer displays the price of the military brace. The regular brace price continues to rise, from $2,380 in late 2017 to $2,699 in mid-2017.

The company is not just focused on military users: the regular brace has been described as being appropriate for performance athletes, day labourers, people with physical ailments and disabilities, and the weekend warrior athlete. The multiple-segment focus is clearly on the company’s website: “Spring Loaded Technology is positioned to deliver Levitation across North America, to help people do more of what they love.” While the above position and the company’s claim for “world’s first” are truly ambitious, it is important that SLT tread carefully moving forward. The company has many potential market segments. One could consider a number of segments based on the Indiegogo campaign, the armed forces deal, and the testimonials presented in its marketing materials.

As a product that is “designed with you in mind,” the identity of this “you” is of utmost importance. Your task is to develop a feasible and reachable target market for the Levitation knee brace. You know you cannot appease all groups right away, but SLT needs some focus as it moves toward making an impact on the market. Choose wisely, have in a spring in your step, and help make the Levitation knee brace a success.

Question 1: Define The Problem
After reading the case what are the main issues? Prioritize and identify what YOU think needs to be solved? In some instances, it will be clearly stated what the case is asking you to address. In others, it will be up to you to uncover and articulate the main issue.

Question 2: List Relevant Evidence & Facts From The Case
This step is designed to help you through the process, you should incorporate evidence and facts (qualitative & quantitative data) into your case write-up. They should be associated with the main problems noted above. This can include information such as characteristics of the industry, consumers, competitive environment, characteristics of the organization. This is the evidence that feeds into your analysis.

Question 3: What Marketing Concepts Can Be Applied To This Situation? List relevant marketing concepts and frameworks (SWOT, CREST, etc) from your learnings that you can use in your analyses of the issues uncovered. Highlight the most compelling or persuasive point(s) from your analysis, this will provide the foundation for the next step; Recommendations.

Question 4: Formulate Recommendations
Your insights should be re-written into recommendations. List two recommended courses of action – do they have the potential to solve the underlying identified symptoms; not the resulting issues?

Recommendation #1: _______________________________________________________________________
This recommendation solves the following symptom(s):

Analysis items (concepts/facts/insights) that are related to this recommendation:

Recommendation #2: _______________________________________________________________________
This recommendation solves the following symptom(s):

Analysis items (concepts/facts/insights) that are related to this recommendation:

Select Your Best Recommendation And Prepare An Action Plan
Apply strategies and/or tactics from your learnings to execute on the best recommendation. How will the success of this action plan be measured? Explain your choices as you are the marketing consultant working for a client.

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