Collegiate Images (CI) is a start-up envisioned by eight college students. They have a small amount of starting capital and face a handful of key product and operational decisions. They have settled on making a calendar with images of students in it. How they go about this is key, their relative success will be immediately apparent and their initial set of decisions will be critical to the entire endeavor.
They have collected some data and are aware of the fixed costs of setup and production. CI needs to understand the basic factors of their enterprise and not become too focused on their data to such an extent that they use it guide all decision making, they need to retain a basic understanding of product offerings and likely buyer behavior in fall 2009. They are in the calendar business, they have niche content, and they have a handful of college based market segments to cater to.
Economic conditions and trends
The current recession is affecting all Americans in a variety of ways, but within the college campus of Eastern Washington University the disposable income a student would spend on a novelty calendar is unlikely to be severely threatened by the current economic crisis. The primary concern for CI is the basic limitations imposed by the calendar business itself. The initial fall launch and the gift buying season preceding the holidays is critical. After the middle of January the demand for calendars falls off tremendously. Calendar stores are effective seasonal and the window for sales is short and focused. College students now handle most of their organizational and reminder needs electronically. The calendar application on a phone or computer is going to be the first choice of many. The CI calendar is going to have to succeed as novelty item, more akin to a poster than a scheduling tool. It needs to have the right production value to support this aim.
Cultural and social values
What CI needs to remember is that their concept isn’t most likely to succeed based on innovation. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, no matter how enticing it may be. CI needs to look around and see the clear direction laid out by other campus calendars and the calendar business in general. The most popular, talked about and available campus calendars in the marketplace are overwhelming coed swimsuit calendars. Their data does not entirely point to this out, but the larger context does. The notion that a calendar of attractive men would appeal to women, or a calendar of attractive men and women would appeal to both is not without some merit. However, the calendar market clearly shows less success and prevalence of either option, when compared to a traditional swimsuit or partially dressed coed calendar. The use of men in calendars is far more limited and is typically based on the relative celebrity status of the men pictured. This isn’t an option for CI. There is a tradition of provocative firemen calendars that could be used as a positive example, but when you compare it to the business success of female swimsuit calendars it is significantly less attractive.
Legal and political issues
The calendar project, especially since it is launched in a collegiate environment, will undoubtedly draw some criticism that it is sexist in its conception and contributes to the objectification of women, and or men. Dealing with this criticism in a professional and effective way will of course be helpful to CI.
Summary of opportunities and threats
CI needs to look at what works within the existing and successful calendar business. The money to buy their product will be there if they keep their strategy focused and they don’t attempt to defy accepted calendar convention based on a sample student questionnaire.
Implications for strategy development
CI should really focus on the proven strategies...