mini-case 1-430-464 December 7, 2015
Clearshield: Evaluating Market Attractiveness
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Windshield wipers were invented by Mary Anderson in 1903, when she saw that streetcar drivers in New York City had to open the window when it rained in order to see. Her invention consisted of a long arm with a rubber blade that was operated by hand from inside the cab. By 1916, all passenger vehicles were fitted with these manual windshield wipers. Automatic systems began to appear in the early 1920s.
In 1936, the first windshield washer unit became available as an option, another breakthrough in automotive technology. Windshield washing fluids, usually consisting of a mixture of ethylene glycol, isopropanol, and water, are reasonably effective at removing dirt, bugs, and other debris. The efficacy of windshield washing fluids decreases, however, in cold weather. Indeed, in winter months these fluids do not spray properly and can sometimes even freeze.
Clearshield Company, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, manufactures a windshield washing fluid heater, which instantly heats the fluid to approximately 50 degrees C The system comes in a kit that takes only 15 minutes to install and, as promised by Clearshield, will “Change Your Driving Experience.”
The first benefit of the system is that heated windshield washing fluid sprays more consistently, helping to reach all parts of the windshield. Heated windshield washing fluid is more effective at dissolving dirt and bugs. Clearshield also claims that windshield wipers will last longer. Finally, the heated windshield washer fluid reduces the amount of scraping of ice and snow needed by the driver.
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©2015 John Branch. This case was written by John Branch, Lecturer of Marketing and Strategy, at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. This case was created to be a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either the effective or ineffective handling of a situation.
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