Home > Uncategorized > What did I learn from my students? Market boundaries are shifting.

What did I learn from my students? Market boundaries are shifting.

A lot of my students do internships or write theses based upon problems of companies or NGO’s. Many teachers want them to play the research game. I prefer them to design something for the company or organisation as I really want them to learn that they don’t have to learn what their teacher wants them to learn…. or wait….

Anyway: what did I learn?

Some of the companies involved were: Agradi (Den Bosch). Cavallo (Bad Oeynhausen), Anicura (Amstelveen, John Maynard Keynes road…), PAVO (Heijen), EC De Peelbergen (Kronenberg), QHP (Drachten), Prins (Veenendaal). All of these except for EC De Peelbergen and Anicura (which are dominated by private equity) are what the Germans call ‘Mittelstand’. All of them except for De Peelbergen and Anicura (which organize events or companies) design and/or produce and sell products. Interestingly, Anicura and De Peelbergen were also the most ‘office’ like companies, with clear goals but less room for personal experiments. And all of these companies were, using the internet, changing the boundaries of the markets.

A) Murphy is alive. And kicking. Whatever can go wrong… (one example: a large and well-known supplier of one of these companies which forgot to update prices for 18 months. It just forgot).

B) The boundaries of the market are shifting – or at least getting fuzzier. There is a lot of ado (and rightly so) about companies which are gathering and using information about you to influence you, personalized advertisements popping up being only one example (“Yes. I just bought a machete on the internet to combat Giant Hogweed. That does not mean that I suddenly want all kind of machete advertisements on my computer. Darn, I just bought one”). But it also goes the other way around. Driven by females between 25 and 45 (at least for these companies) customers pose an ever-increasing number of questions about products )characteristics, quality, how to use it, mistakes y the company – whatever). Many of these companies spend more and more time answering questions. It is not unusual that a rather small company designing products and  selling them on the internet has three or four people answering questions all the time (telephone, e-mail, Instagram, Facebook, whatever). To an extent, this replaces reading the manual. But if you do not do not go with that flow the customer is gone. Especially the Mittelstand companies are often experimenting with vlogs, fan days and whatever, not seeing this as a nuisance but as an opportunity. Customers do come to these fan days! The hard boundary between the modern company and the customer, characteristic for the twentieth century, is getting blurry. All the designing and organizing is heavily and often 100% female dominated, at least in these companies.

C) Multidimensional emotion and frustration/enthusiasm based models to get to grips with groups of consumers, like personas, customer journeys and the like, are rapidly replacing more tradition rational choice based models. Statistically speaking, modus, median and spread are getting more important, averages less while these numbers are translated into vivid images of people.

D) Except for feed, manufacturing is routinely outsourced to countries like India, Pakistan, China and Romania (and I am one of those who is afraid that ‘we’, in the Netherlands but also in countries around us, are loosing crucial skills and craftmanship).


  1. Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
    July 13, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Very useful. My engineers, going for a Master’s with business knowledge add-ons, want a job. I try to oblige them with lots of examples of how to sell themselves to the potential employer & then fit into work-teams.
    Since I am in the middle of German techland, between SAP business software & Daimler design/assembly, I expect all these changes in working & shopping. For those workers who make big money, mostly they will forgo their hands-on upbringing & use immigrants to do the “menial” stuff. I saw this happen in America when some reservation Indiians became rich through Indian casino or land-use payments from mining companies, out in the American West.

  2. July 13, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Great information, thanks.

    If you want to buy machetes on the internet press CTRL-SHIFT-N (Chrome) or CTRL-SHIFT-P (Edge) to ope a private window. Do this instead of legislating GDPR, driving Google out of business, and driving consumers into the hands of vertical monopolies like Amazon.

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