After taking a hard hit to the head, your coach says to you “how many fingers am I holding up”? You answer the question correctly, and she tells you to get back on the field and keep playing. Concussions are a common injury that currently needs more attention. Contact sports are in need of stronger protective equipment rules and concussion knowledge. Strength training will create more muscle and help protect the body if you are hit hard. Effects of concussions get worse in the future if not properly treated.
The Jaw Joint Science Institute (JJSI) has created Product JX, a patented mouth guard, designed to prevent jaw joint fractures which produce many of the symptoms of concussions. JJSI has the challenge to properly market the product better than their competitors. The product is currently only being sold in B2B markets. Product JX competitors include other appliances that prevent concussions during contact sports. Interviews with people who have suffered from a concussion, or knows a teammate or relative that has, reveals that there is a place in the market for this product.
Sports concussions are a frequent topic of discussion in the news; however, the facts behind it don’t seem to line up. “A concussion is a brain injury that can happen from a fall, collision, bump, jolt,” (Kutcher, Alessi-LaRosa, Baxter) or slight blow to the head. It happens when the brain receives enough force to move it quickly inside of the skull. A common misconception is that in order for a concussion to occur, he/she needs to knocked unconscious. Concussions can take a few hours to develop, and may make you “feel hazy and dazed for a week, and sometimes even months, after the initial injury” (Sigma Nursing).
Short term effects after suffering a concussion include: headache, dizziness, blurred vision, and feeling foggy. Post-concussion headaches will vary and usually feel like tension-type headaches or migraines. Long term effects include: memory problems, light and noise sensitivity, and trouble sleeping. “To reduce the risk of short-term problems associated with concussions from turning into long-term problems, see a doctor within one to two days of a head injury” (Office of Public Affairs). There is no quick or simple test to definitively diagnose a concussion, and because of this, baseline testing should be administered every year if you have suffered from a concussion in the past. The best thing you can do is to rest your brain and your body.
Proper protective gear is a good habit to get into, especially while playing contact sports. Wearing a helmet does not fully protect against concussions; however “helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of some head injuries” (The Micheli Center). Playing dirty and overly aggressive in contact sports will lead to head injuries. In contact sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse, and hockey, parents, coaches, and players should encourage a strict adherence to the rules. Strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles is a good way to reduce risks of concussions. Strength training can help the “body absorb the shock of a blow to the head” (The Micheli Center).
People who are at risk of a concussion include: falling, especially in young children and older adults, participating in a high risk sport such as football, hockey, soccer, rugby, boxing, or other contact sports, being involved in a motor vehicle collision, being involved in a pedestrian or bike accident, or having had a previous concussion. As mentioned above, if you’ve had a concussion in the past, you should undergo baseline testing yearly. The mindset of many athletes, coaches, and others in sports is that a concussion should be shaken off, but there has recently been a new focus on concussion safety.
There is a market opportunity to create a shift from how to manage a concussion to how to prevent one. The Jaw Joint Science Institute (JJSI) has created a campaign that identifies the jaw joint and its’ injury patterns associated with concussions. Jaw joint fractures produce many of the symptoms of concussions. The JJSI team, under the leadership of Dr. Ed Jones, repositioned powerful 3D imaging technology that now discovers tiny bone fracture, splinters, and bone spurs in the jaw joint. which must be considered in the evaluation of concussions and other head related injuries. These fracture patterns are prevalent in athletes of contact and recreational sports that have sustained concussive head impact forces.
The product of JJSI is called Product JX. It is a patented medical mouth appliance created by doctors at JJSI to protect and prevent fractures of the bones in the jaw joint circle. When properly inserted, the mouthpiece stabilizes and locks the lower jaw into position. This prevents it from slamming into the base of the brain causing lower jaw joint impact concussions.
There are a few competitors in the market that already exist. The first and largest competitor being FITGuard. They offer a mouth guard with a built in sensor that indicates if further medical attention is needed after a hit to the body. The sensor will blink green, blue, or red to indicate how severe the hit was. The indication of the sensor is to express what kind of attention is needed, low, moderate, or severe respectively. FITGuard currently sells to both B2B and B2C markets, but they provide a lower cost for B2B.
Unequal is another company that produces two products which can be considered a competitor to JX. HALO looks just like a headband that offers effective head protection. They claim that this product reduces concussion risk as much as 77%. GYRO is a thin helmet liner that also protects against head injuries. Overall, GYRO and HALO customer reviews were very good across the board.
Shock Doctor is another competitor in the market. They created a mouth guard that protects the lips and teeth. Shock Doctor offers a dental guarantee of up to $10,000 to any dental damage while wearing the appliance. The reviews on Amazon are very good, 5 out of 5 stars. The good reviews include easy to mold and re-mold, worth the money, and very comfortable.
Vicis is a smaller competitor because of their tight target market and single product; however they are still believed be a competitor. They are a firm who recently debuted an innovative new helmet in hopes of addressing football’s biggest problem, head injuries. The product is a multilayered highly-engineered helmet design that mitigates linear and rotational impact forces. It was created by engineers and neurosurgeons. The reviews of the Vicis helmet is 4.8/5.0 stars for 99 reviews. The reviews included highlights of superb customer service, worth the price, better than other brands owned, and a piece of mind given.
Product JX will be sold in a B2B market. A large potential buying organization is High School athletic departments. Sporting goods stores such as Dicks or Sports Authority is another potential buyer. Product JX could also be sold directly to a sport league, team, or association. The gatekeepers of purchasing are the organizations and the coach. Parents, coaches, and professional players are influencers for the buying unit.
Three interviews were conducted to gather primary research from people who are knowledgeable about concussions. Interviewee number one, Hunter, is a 23-year-old white male who skis and played football during adolescence. He is a service technician at a ski shop. He suffered a concussion from skiing with a helmet on that cracked in half. He didn’t seek medical attention for his injury, even after his parents raised concern about it. He was super foggy and looked and felt horrible after the incident. Even after suffering hard from his accident, he does not believe that sports need more protection. He does think that mandatory protective equipment has a job to do, but most of the time it doesn’t matter anyway. He wouldn’t ever ski without a helmet, but wouldn’t wear any other protective gear besides that because he’s “not a loser”.
Interviewee number two, Lan, is a mid 40’s Asian female who coaches lacrosse. She believes that concussions are very dangerous, even if it is only a mild one. She has not personally suffered from one, but her 12-year-old son has. He is a competitive diver who hit his head on a diving block. Lan does not believe that coaches are knowledgeable enough about head injuries. After hitting his head, the coaching staff asked him what his name was. When he answered the question correctly, they cleared him to continue to practice after the incident. Despite the coaches’ decision, Lan took her son to seek medical attention. She is all for mandatory protective equipment, and believes that all sports need more protection. Lan believes that age plays a large role in the amount of protective gear that is required.
Interviewee number three, Alyson, is a 19-year-old white female who grew up playing softball. She currently works in a nursing home. She has suffered from two concussions, both came from playing softball. She’s also had many friends and teammates who have suffered from one as well. The concussions that she suffered from lasted about two weeks and caused chronic headaches and difficulty learning. She believes that baseball, soccer, softball, and wrestling need more protection. Protective gear should be mandatory while you are young, but the option to go without it should be available to you as you get older. Protective gear such as face masks and helmets make her personally feel safe.
The primary research summarized above shows that even if someone has suffered personally from a concussion, doesn’t mean that they are willing to wear anymore protective gear in the future. Even if people aren’t willing to wear the gear themselves, they still believe that it should be mandatory for others to wear, especially children. Protective gear makes players in sports feel safer just by wearing it. People seem to understand the severity of concussions and how important it is to protect your head. Coaches need to be more informed about signs of a concussion and help players take the necessary action if they believe the player has suffered form one.
With that being said, there is a need for Product JX, and a large market for it. The mouth guard can be positioned to be sold to athletic departments and sporting goods stores. Product JX can partner up with specific teams or organizations, such as the NCAA, to carry the mouth guard for all players. Product JX can be partnered with medical insurance companies to provide lower rates to customers who wear the mouth guard while playing contact sports. Another possibility is to partner with a company who also has expertise of protective sports equipment, and sell the product as a package deal. For example, they could partner with VICIS to sell the mouth guard and helmet together for a lower price and double the protection.
Critical factors in marketing Product JX will include proving that the product is breakthrough technology and effective in preventing concussions. A guarantee or warranty can help do this for consumers. Proven and backed evidence that Product JX will protect and prevent fractures of the bones in the jaw joint circle is necessary. Partnering with an insurance company will also show that the health industry truly believes in the product. A group of customer service representatives who are able to assist customers with questions they may have about the product is pertinent in staying reputable. Product JX is not the only concussion reducing product on the market, therefore they need to stay competitive and provide the best. By choosing to sell Product JX directly to consumers opens up another window of opportunity. Not all sports are to the point that protective equipment is mandatory, therefore consumers should have the option to buy directly from the producer for an individual product.