Pivot or Perish
Wharton School of Business
Pivot or Perish
Since 2011, world renown scholar and author of The Shopping Revolution Barbara Kahn has taught a high-level marketing course at The Wharton School. With the release of her latest book, Backpack was brought in to develop an experience that allows her students to interact with the Success Matrix she outlines. Pivot or Perish is an educational game designed from the ground up to show how to gain a business edge in retail.
How do you build a modern business?
Built around Professor Kahn’s Retailing Success Matrix, Pivot or Perish allows students to role-play as executives for a major department-store chain, plotting strategies for competing with online brands in an era where the shopping experience is rapidly evolving.
Professor Kahn’s research outlines four things that businesses need to focus on to remain successful - product brand, experiential, low price, and frictionless - and the interplay between these quadrants are the focus of our game. You adjust these factors and the budget you devote to them through a number of rounds, and between each round you get to see how you performed against competitors.
Success from step one
The first step in the Backpack process is to understand the fundamentals of what your product is aiming to achieve. For Pivot or Perish, we started by digging deep into The Shopping Revolution to understand both the theories of customer value and differential advantage that underpinned the game. We also took care to work towards the needs of the MBA students to which this experience was focused.
From there, we took the algorithm that forms the basis of Professor Kahn’s work, and built a front-end code. The challenge with any simulation game is creating a user experience that keeps up with the complexity of the material, but doesn’t overwhelm the audience with too much information. To that end, we presented the Matrix and its adjustable variables in an efficient, functional layout, with a visually pleasing design that focused on supporting learning and exploration.
A streamlined experience
Pivot or Perish was an opportunity to tell the story of what a company could be as well as what challenges brick and mortar stores face in the 21st century. We built a visual UI that allows a user to see what impact their marketing decisions made to their mock business across multiple rounds of gameplay. Quick toggling between screens allows the user to dive into more details, displaying the data in slick, clean graphs and visualizations. The end result is an engaging, interactive way to teach the nuances of the consumer market.