Many companies try to compete with the market leader by creating a better product at a cheaper price — but the brand, and everything that encompasses, is really the most important thing. Why is that? We have an infinite amount of information and exponentially more choices than ever. Today, the average supermarket carries more than 40,000 items, compared to some 10,000 30 years ago. As the number of products and services increases, evaluation of each can decrease. I mean, how much time do you want to put into choosing every product you buy? Consumers often go with the market leader, or what others have, assuming it’s the better product. It’s a shortcut that can be helpful when time is at a premium.
The world’s most recognized brands don’t always create a new category but if a pioneer does, a challenger can have difficulty gaining popularity. Therefore, positioning is crucial and should focus on how a brand can define its own category. In the Greek yogurt world, Chobani could have claimed it was creamier and tastier than the competition, the mistake Fage made. Instead, Chobani promoted itself as the Greek yogurt. Nike elevated itself from the competition by uniting all of its products under one inspiring statement: “Just Do it,” instead of just trying to sell better sneakers.
So, how do you become the next Chobani or Nike? Think Snapchat for disappearing photos, Square for smartphone credit-card readers and Pinterest for online scrapbooks. Find (or create) a hole in the market and put forth something that’s recognized as a whole new category, not just something that’s better.
How many underwater and other action cameras have you seen over the years? Many were created but, today, the go-to cameras are GoPros. They’re everywhere, enabling the capture of heroic action and never-before-seen natural events. GoPro changed the game by creating inexpensive, easy-to-use HD cameras, then showcasing amazing customer videos.
Remember a little online bookseller named Amazon? It took its platform and created a multibillion-dollar juggernaut that’s responsible for changing the way consumers shop. Now, Amazon is synonymous with delivery — of anything.
Conversely, Pepsi has tried to gain market share through taste tests, distribution and countless other ways but they’ve always had to play catch-up in the battle for cola dominance. They’ve been up against “the real thing.” How do you compete with that?
Over and over, we see brands gain market dominance by becoming the fill-in-the-blank. And it all happens through the brand’s perception in the market. Your brand is what they say you are, based on their experience with your product or service.
Got any stories of brands that up-ended their categories? Share them in the comments below.
Harvey Kaner - Copywriter