How can an entrepreneur position a product in the market?

by Ashvini Kumar Saxena on May 21, 2011 · 11 comments

in Entrepreneurship

For an entrepreneur, positioning the product is the most important thing to become successful.

For e.g. take the case of Soap market. There are thousands of kinds of soap in the market. There are market leaders(P&G, Unilever ) , followers and also-rans.

Then there are categories of soaps such as disinfectant soaps, skin care soaps, body care soaps etc. Next, the soap segment is divided further by the types of distribution channels selling them. (soaps available in super market vs local grocery stores vs luxury hotels).

finally, there is distinguishing by price. Some soaps are really cheap while some are extremely expensive . Most of them occupy a place  in the middle.

In my opinion, soap is one of the most dissected and explored product line in this world.  Just start naming the soaps products you know and you will be surprised by how many you can recall .

Still, every day or two, new soaps are being launched and further categories are being created.

There is an important lesson in positioning your product in already crowded market. Many time entrepreneurs want to go head on with existing market leaders.I remember an entrepreneur who wanted to start a new airline. He had some good amount money with him and he was interested in starting a new airline business. When asked about what was his plan, he said that he would buy a few planes and start operating as soon as possible. Nothing more. He had absolutely no plans about where to position his airline business. Was he competing for price, routes or something else ? He had no idea .

In an another story, I knew a person who was planning to compete against IT biggies on the basis of cost. His position was that since he was operating from a cheaper location, he would be able to service his client at a less cost.

Having worked in IT industry for long, I knew he would find it difficult to survive because a bigger competitor sometimes just do work for free. How can you compete with free?

Your large competitors have enormous amount of capital. They have been in the market from many years. They understand the problems and opportunities much more better. They have huge marketing teams to outwit any new entrant. Unless until you have something similar to their experience and clout, don’t even try to think about attacking them.

Remember David Vs Goliath story? David was able to beat Goliath because he stayed out of the reach for long .  That is how an entrepreneur needs to position himself in the market out of the way of big competitors. Take a look at some ways how your entrepreneurial venture can do that.

A great positioning  is well researched.

A well defined positioning strategy is all about finding the right niche or areas that are unexplored. A nicely researched strategy which documents the various products and their territory( financial as well as geographical)  in the market makes it very easy to create a new segment.

Let us take an example of soap market above. Does it make any difference if we add one more soap brand to this market. We can use new design or packaging but soon it will be copied by our competitors. So what do we do? Create a new category, liquid soap. ( Infact liquid soap was an unexplored market a few years ago in India). It does add to the crowd in soap market and is thus differentiated.

Why is it a good strategy ?

The giants in soap market would probably not notice the new category ( because it is too small to be profitable) . Bigger companies are slow to respond and that is where entrepreneurial ventures have an edge.

Next -> Launch a car

If you want to launch a car where would you do it? There are hundreds of cars in almost all segments ( petrol and diesel). So where is the opportunity.

Hint : A car that does not run on fossil fuel( at least directly). Reva is such a car and it is quite a hit.

If you want to launch a drink in the overcrowded soft drink market, go for health drink market .

If you want to launch a software service, a specialized segment is better.

That is why research is extremely important for finding out the right segment you want to be a leader in.

A great positioning is far away from leader’s radar

Remember in the story “Lord of the ring”, only way for Frodo Baggins to reach tower of doom was not to go in the sight of Sauron. If he had done that, humans would not have won against Mordor. He did it under the radar and did it successfully.

A great positioning strategy, if you are a small entrepreneur is to find out the segment that is so small that a leader will ignore.  There is always a hidden demand in every new category. No one wanted burgers around the world, till Mc Donald  brought it to them. MacDonald used fried stuff. KFC successfully used boiled chicken as a differentiators. Subway brought in their bread at the healthy food category.

Always try to find out the segment that is so small for a leader to even consider and then dominate it.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica Cervera October 21, 2011 at 6:00 am

Product positioning may be one of the most difficult challenges and one of the most important too. It usually takes a considerable amount of time before one sees their efforts paying off. Market research is an absolute necessity. One has got to be as accurate as possible.

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Mouh May 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Lawmacs mentioned finding the right niche or a lucrative market. I’d say it is all about finding the right niche FOR YOU. Forex trading is a lucrative market, but it is not that for me because it isn’t something I’d love to do. Plus, it is too competitive. We have to look for unexplored markets, as you said. Maybe something within Forex would do the job. But I am still convinced that one must find the profitable niche for him or her not for others.

I know someone who is doing business in a not-too-profitable niche. A niche that marketers don’t recommend at all. He is making over $50k a month! How come? The niche isn’t that profitable! Simply because it is his passion and he has been able to push people to buy his passion. His passion created a profitable market for him. Hope you see what I mean by all this. It is all about finding the most profitable niche FOR YOU. Choose a market that you are passionate about and let people follow you instead of you following them and their niches!

Thanks a lot for this wonderful post!

Mouh
: o)

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Daniel M. Wood May 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm

The leaders usually go after as large a market as possible.
This opens up a lot of different niche markets for entrepreneurs.

We can’t go after the big guys, yet, but we can build in our niche increasing its size, unseen by the bigger players.
From there we can move into related niches and build them as well.

As the years roll by all of a sudden you have taken a big share of the market, you have capital and can go into the major market, head to head against the big boys.

Just remember where you are now, don’t over extend yourself, be the best at what you do, first.

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lawmacs May 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Some important points here finding a lucrative market is first and foremost and then getting in and start dominate it is another issue the point to remember here is that make sure you do your research and then hit that segment hard

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 23, 2011 at 1:36 am

Hi Gary,
Thanks for commenting. It is very necessary to do the right research and then dominate the market. I agree with you.

Best regards,
Ashvini

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Christian Hollingsworth May 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

The best products seem to come out of the production gates well defined, ready, set, and ready to fight. Poor are the products that come from an idea; and were just too quick in production. Maybe the company doesn’t have it’s social media campaign going, poor website, etc…but I think it’s important to get things going well BEFORE you’ve opened the floodgates.

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 23, 2011 at 1:38 am

Hi Christian,
I have seen what a poorly thought out product and its implementation can do. It is very necessary to make a plan ( before the floodgates open :) ) and then work on it.

Thanks for dropping by.
Best regards,
Ashvini

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Adam Paudyal May 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Ash! You have mentioned some great points here. The soap market is a perfect example.

Success comes to those who find an unexplored niche that has potential and exploit the shit out of it. I mean, people can be successful even if the competition is fierce but the odds are stacked against them. It also boils down to doing your research right and other rudimentary factors, including a little bit of luck (O:

Great insights Ash!
You rock man.

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Hi Adam,
Thanks again for reading!!!
Finding the niche or segment is quite difficult initially but then once you get it , start dominating it like hell. That would make you a leader in the segment.

Best regards,
Ashvini

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