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Product development for a stigmatized segment

Frank Franzak (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)
Mike Little (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)
Dennis Pitta (University of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




This paper seeks to describe an innovative practice that has implications for new product developers.


The case study describes an approach to new product development for a product that satisfies a need, which is fraught with social stigma. Childhood obesity is growing to epidemic proportions in the USA. The problem is the result of a confluence of factors, including a more sedentary lifestyle and pressures on parents to work and spend less time interacting with their children. For its victims, the problem seems intractable.


The case demonstrates the need for a comprehensive and systematic approach to product development that provides a workable solution that a target segment will embrace. The product described required careful market segmentation beyond the basic economic analysis of who could afford it. The main issue was to portray the benefits in a way that the target audience would accept.

Research limitations/implications

As in all case studies, the specific conditions found in one organization may not be found more generally in others. Readers are cautioned that the conclusion drawn in the case may have limited applicability.

Practical implications

The case depicts an innovative application of a behaviour modification device to a public health problem. Other organizations may find the technique of value in their own efforts.


The case describes a successful application of a medical device to address the childhood obesity problem. The work necessary to ensure that the PARS product was effective represents a new area of investigation in new product development.



Franzak, F., Little, M. and Pitta, D. (2008), "Product development for a stigmatized segment", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 123-127.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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