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Commercializing the Kunst 1600 Dry Piston Vacuum Pump©

James A. Narus James C. Anderson *

June 2003

* James A. Narus is Professor of Business Marketing, Babcock Graduate School of Management, Wake Forest University. James C. Anderson is the William L. Ford Distinguished Professor of Marketing and Wholesale Distribution, and Professor of Behavioral Science in Management, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. He is also the Irwin Gross Distinguished ISBM Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Business Markets (ISBM), located at Penn State University, and Visiting Research Professor, School of Technology & Management, University of Twente, the Netherlands.

Please note that we prepared this case as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. We disguised all of the company names and some of the information on marketplace conditions.

Send correspondence to:
James A. Narus
Babcock Graduate School of Management
Wake Forest University
Suite 150, One Morrocroft Centre
6805 Morrison Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28226-3551 USA
+1.704.365.6717 (telephone) (e-mail)

© 2003, James C. Anderson and James A. Narus. All rights reserved.
Commercializing the Kunst 1600 Dry Piston Vacuum Pump

Evan Stone, a senior product manager at Kunst Vacuum Pumps, was excited as he lifted the prototype of a dry piston vacuum pump out of its shipping carton. Management of Kunst’s new parent company, Atler GmbH, had decided to test its ability to penetrate new market segments within the United States (U.S.). Whereas Atler marketed the 1600 under its own name as a platform product to the scientific laboratory and health care segments, Kunst would sell it as a derivative product in previously untapped application segments. The division’s vice president, Will Metz, had named Evan to head up a team charged with finding new segments for and then commercializing the 1600. Evan looked forward to the challenge. Success would bring recognition from Atler’s senior management. As he placed the steel gray device on his desk, Evan recited to Will all the product information he could recall.

“The Kunst 1600 Dry Piston Vacuum Pump is a fractional horsepower, injection-molded aluminum pump, with a pumping speed of 1.6 cubic feet per minute (CFM). The pump weighs 16.5 pounds. The Kunst 1600 is a reconfigured compressor outfitted with a screen over its input nozzle to catch contaminants. Because it is a compressor, the Kunst 1600 can run longer and cooler than conventional vacuum pumps. This enables the Kunst 1600 to function more efficiently at lower pressure levels than competing products. And, the fact that it is injection-molded means that it has fewer working parts than more traditional models. In contrast to conventional pumps, the Kunst 1600 is oil-free. Kunst will sell the 1600 to its network of wholesalers for $400, with a suggested resale price of $500.”

“Will, this product along with the Kunst reputation for precision, reliability, and durability will make us the ‘Mercedes’of vacuum pumps in the U.S.”, Evan confidently predicted. Yet before Evan could begin to market the Kunst 1600, he had to make some critical decisions. First, Evan had to identify and target high potential market segment(s). He planned to do so by determining in which segment(s) the Kunst 1600 stood to deliver the greatest value. Evan speculated that the residential air-conditioning (AC) repair segment would offer the best opportunity. Second, Evan had to develop a value proposition for the Kunst 1600 for each segment targeted. At this point, he wasn’t sure whether to stress the fact that the pump did not require oil changes or that it had a projected lifetime of 6 years.


Based in Minneapolis, Kunst Vacuum Pumps is the recently...
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