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Repelolicer: A Reality or Snake Oil

Umer Hussain and Bo Yu

South Asian Journal of Business and Management Cases, 2021, vol. 10, issue 2, 167-179

Abstract: While head lice continue to be a worldwide health issue, there remains a dearth of scholarship detailing how various organizations are developing different products to deal with this problem. In this case study, the authors ponder upon a novel entrepreneurial idea developed by the students to tackle the lice issue in Pakistan. A team of students developed Repelolicer, an ultrasonic wave-emitting hairband to stop lice infestation among younger-aged girls. The Repelolicer team developed various strategies to target the Pakistani market. However, due to inadequate knowledge of the external market, the entrepreneurial idea failed to succeed. Research Objective: This case study aimed to explore challenges faced by an entrepreneurial venture using the first-mover strategy while penetrating the lower strata market via a product, which had a stigmatized effect. Link to Theory: In the extant scholarship, first-movers are considered to have strategic advantages against new rivals. In this study, we explore the disadvantages of first-mover in a complex Pakistani market situation through the lens of the resource-based view (RBV) and industrial organization (IO) perspective. Phenomenon Studied: This case study focuses on exploring the reasons behind the failure of tech-based first-movers (i.e., Repelolicer) in the Pakistani market scenario. The study also elucidates various external factors—a new venture should explore before launching a product in a Pakistani market situation. Case Context: The context in this case study is the lice problem among younger-aged girls in Pakistan’s lower strata market. Findings: The study participants unveiled that despite Repelolicer having competitive advantages because of internal factors, the Repelolicer team could not fully understand invisible forces in the external market. This lack of understanding led to their product failure. The Repelolicer team was also unable to comprehend how the product design might have further escalated the stigma attached to lice in society. Lastly, their pricing and promotion strategy was incompatible with the complex market situation. Discussions: This study adds to the limited knowledge about first-movers’ disadvantages in developing countries, such as Pakistan. The study results revealed that being a first-mover, even with all the adequate resources, is not always advantageous. The new ventures can especially face disastrous consequences for being the first-mover due to their lack of experience and knowledge of the local market. The study results also showed that new ventures should take the IO perspective with the RBV approach to succeed in a complicated market situation. The theoretical and practical implications of the case study have been outlined.

Keywords: Lice issue; Pakistani women; resource-based view; industrial organization perspective (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/22779779211014635

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