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This week’s riff: There are three ways that you can lead your market. The first is to be better than everyone else. That’s fine, up to a point, but in many markets most customers have already made their choice about what the ‘best’ is and are unwilling to spend significant time and effort on finding a new ‘best’. You would have to offer something absolutely amazing, for instance, if you wanted to become a new leader in the deodorant market. Consumers have already made their choice.

The second approach is to identify and focus on a new or under-served set of customers. Lynx, for instance, isn’t trying to be the ‘best’ deodorant brand, but it has grown and succeeded by becoming the first non-sports, lifestyle deodorant brand for teenage boys. And I can smell the evidence of their success every day in my sons’ bedrooms!

The third route to growth is to offer something very different to the existing players in the market. What if, for example, you developed a chewing gum that acted as a deodorant, or created clothing that would never smell? Well, a quick search on Google showed me that you can buy Deo Perfume Candy in the USA and that the clothing retailer, Uniqlo, offers sports shirts with deodorizing qualities. These solutions may not yet have hit the big time, but they probably have a better chance of success than another me-too deodorant.

All business need to invest in the ongoing improvement of their products and services, but to what extent are you also looking to identify potential new market segments or developing a totally different solution for your target customers?

Off The Record: Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking by Bob Dylan

Gonna change my way of thinking

Make myself a different set of rules

Gonna put my good foot forward

And stop being influenced by fools

© Stuart Cross 2014. All rights reserved.