There are multitudes of businesses competing for the same sea of people inside the malls alone. Kiosks, stores, and department store shelf spaces host different brands that try to earn and outearn each other in a cutthroat level of competition. And we are all aware of this, as even business owners are customers of different industries. When we buy clothes, we pick from the competing brands offering shirts we like. When we buy food, we look for restaurants that will satiate our appetite. And the wonderful element at play here that we might not notice is how our minds decide which store to buy from through a complicated process of elimination.
For example, when we buy clothes, we decide the purpose of the clothes. If we decide that we are looking for corporate attire, then all the other brands that offer casual wear are eliminated from our mind. Then we think of colors, and then the design, and then size, and then we recall which brand we have tested before and passed our taste. With how much information was used, we start to wonder how top brands became the leading brand among all their competitors.
Among the strategies that can be employed, there are three which are keys for entrepreneurs to build a sustainable advantage: focusing, innovation, and consistency. Although the three look very simple, a deep understanding of how these strategies are applied will make clear how vital they are to a business.
The first thing to do is to know where to focus. Notice that there are top brands that offer general products to all classes of market. They are always either offering to the masses, middle-income class, or upper class, never to all of them. And they do this in a variety of ways, most predominantly through their pricing. By comparing prices, you get to see which market each business is trying to capture. There are numerous segmentations you can make in the market, especially when it comes to psychographics. You can factor in social status in choosing a target. You can target pre-teens with punk rock designs, or college students with young professional styles. You can target based on health preferences. Some restaurants offer all-vegan menu to target vegetarian and vegan clients, while some are known for offering steaks. Find out which segment of the available market in your industry you want to focus on. In order for you to start winning your customers, you need to determine first who your best market is. Through your understanding, you start crafting all your strategies — pricing, marketing tools, venue, and all other decisions affecting your brand.
Innovation is key to retaining old customers and gathering new ones. Gadgets take on new sizes and features rapidly. Fashion trends change overtime. You need to innovate in order to keep up with the times and the changing behavior of your market. However, no matter how unique you make your product, you have to ask yourself if customers actually like those uniqueness. Does it provide convenience, or does it hinder comfort in using your product? Are the customers more attracted or did your product lose its appeal? Does it still look like it was made by your brand, or a cheap imitation of your market leader? True innovation requires you taking a step forward the direction your consumers are heading. Follow their wants and standardize features that focus on needs. Innovation does not necessarily mean being weird, or different among the rest, but rather having the features that provide more value to your customers more than that of your competitors.
On the other hand, consistency is what gives credibility to your brand. In deciding which brand we buy from, we usually factor in our or our peers’ previous experiences with the brand. This is why, if you want to win customers, you have to make sure that the quality of products you provide is consistent. Person A may have had a good experience, but if person B, his peer tells him about an undesirable experience with your brand, person A may start thinking about switching brands. It is even worse, if you yourself experience the inconsistency. Create a standard of quality your products must follow before they are sold in the market. Make sure your salespeople have the same level of training and mastery. Be consistent in order for your brand to have an identity.
Winning the greater portion of the market share versus multitudes of competitors is daunting, especially for startups. But with proper focus, innovating, and consistent execution, your company will start to build a brand that will be sought after by clients.
Ruben Anlacan Jr. is the president and
CEO of BusinessCoach, Inc.