The market for lifeskills training software can be segmented into four groups. The first is centers for independent living, the second is school districts, the third is proactive parents, and the last is agencies charged with special education administration. Each of the four segments is distinct and will be communicated with in different ways. These four segments have been chosen because they are the main purchasers of products for individuals with developmental disabilities.
The software industry for individuals with developmental disabilities has just begun to grow. Only within the last few years has there been a significant increase in the number of computers found in classrooms using specialized software. Competing with the software companies are products that have printed pictures on them, typically laminated cards. While these cards are helpful, they are less interactive.
4.1 Market Segmentation
FoodFun LIS has identified four distinct market segments for their products:
Centers for Independent Living- These are typically not-for-profit entities that assist individuals with developmental disabilities. The centers help clients with transition skills, making them more independent. These centers offer a wide range of lifeskills training for the individuals.
School Districts- All students are guaranteed an education therefore the school districts must provide the appropriate education until the individual is 21 years old. School districts are consumers of these products in pursuit of their goal of providing the students with an appropriate education.
Proactive Parents- These are parents of individuals with developmental disabilities who are taking an active role in their child's education/lifeskill training. Reinforcing these skills as much as possible is useful, therefore there are many parents that will purchase the software for home use.
Agencies- Many states, often as a reaction to a lawsuits (individual and class actions) have set up agencies or brokerages whose purpose is to dispense money from the state to the service providers assisting the individuals in need.
Centers for Independent Living
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
These four target segments were chosen because they have the greatest likelihood of purchasing FoodFun's products.
Centers for Independent Living- The centers typically buy aids to assist in the teaching of lifeskills and other transition skills to their clients.
School Districts- In order to assist the school districts in teaching the students (a federal requirement) the districts will use instructional tools and aids. Instructional tools are particularly useful as the ratio of students to teachers is often high and these aids help the school manage the students better.
Proactive Parents- Parents that are interested in helping with their child's education will seek useful devices that they can use at home.
Agencies- The agencies are often given sums of money and must spend it on the students' education/training. The agencies are always looking for products that will be useful in providing students with necessary skills.
4.3 Industry Analysis
There are several companies making products that specifically address learning needs for individuals with developmental disabilities. While some of the companies' products are also suitable for traditional students, most companies in this industry specialize on products for developmental disabilities.
Within the industry there are a wide range of products. There are many different product groups that target specific types of disabilities. There are also different products targeted on a specific disability. Some might concentrate on spelling, reading comprehension, counting, sentence construction, etc. Lastly, within each specific category products take different forms, some may be CDs, software, cards, audio tapes, etc.
4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
There are three main companies that are direct competitors to FoodFun Lifeskills Instructional Software, focusing on individuals with developmental disabilities or individuals with autism (75% of individuals with autism are developmentally disabled and non-readers).
WordWise- This company makes several products including picture-based language programs, laminated picture cards, and community success CDs. While their software has a grocery shopping module, it is very simple and limited in the choices of grocery items.
Edbydesign.com- This company has several products including: sentence maker, match maker, counting programs, and sorting programs. These are all non-interactive CD-based programs.
Autismcoach.com- This company makes software that is designed to strengthen core cognitive skills such as short-term memory, mental processing speed, multi-tasking and auditory processing. This is primarily for a younger customer age of 10-17.