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December 8, 2020 5 min read
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When we stumble upon a new solution or come up with an entrepreneurial idea that grips us, chances are that product will have some competition. It’s just the name of the game in entrepreneurship. Not every field is saturated, but everything has an alternative. Competition can span beyond direct rivals (like all of the snow boot brands) and into solution competition. An example: You may think movie theaters only have other movie theaters, and maybe movies to watch at home, to contend with. But realistically, movie theaters are also in competition with every other entertaining activity that could be more enticing to their customers on that day or night.
The products that win out are those that monopolize their customers by offering something nothing else in their category can touch. This is what has made products like Lyft or even the iPhone so successful: They introduced a special type of superiority that customers just had to have. Here’s how you know a product will win out in saturated markets every time.
1. It looks better
Because we know that customers buy with their emotions, aesthetics play a role in their purchasing decisions. This is why Pinterest has been so successful as a place to shop. According to Hootsuite, “85% of shoppers put visuals first when shopping for apparel and furniture.” We buy when we like how something will look on us, in our home or when it’s around us frequently (like a car). This seems obvious, but the question is, who decides if something looks good or bad? Individual tastes account for some of that, but human psychology is all about perception. In other words, if a consumer is repetitively seeing a celebrity or an influencer wearing a certain style or choosing a certain aesthetic, they’re more apt to like it themselves.
This also encompasses how something makes a consumer look, and not just, “Does this color wash me out?” Many consumers want to be perceived as classy, well-off, important, etc. This is why some customers will choose to fork over four figures for a designer bag rather than opting for utility. To win out in the “looks better” category, aim to create a new trend that carries a message with it. Partner with influencers and celebrities to take a “look” to the next level. In other words, how does it look to outside viewers when your customer wears or uses your product?
2. It works better
Then there’s just the products that go up a notch in efficiency. This could be as simple as a knife that cuts better or as complicated as an algorithm that gives improved recommendations. This comes down to consumer trust. If a customer knows they can trust your product, they’ll choose it every time.
Sometimes, working better can entail that the customer has an easier time using or operating the product. If an app is too slow or a zipper is hard to zip, consumers will stay away, and tell their friends to stay away too. But, if you can’t yet prove it to your customer through their experience, prove your product works better through facts, statistics and studies — or through offering a seamless experience that rivals that of your competitors.
3. It’s more convenient
Consumers also value their time. The convenience factor can play out in several ways. It could be shipping time, personal time (such as calling a car instead of walking or taking public transportation), being able to easily find something, etc. An article aptly titled, “Companies Offering Convenience are Taking Over the World” on LiveChat’s Success blog discusses how the preference for convenience is what’s led to an increase in online shopping for everything. It also explains Amazon’s success, such as with on-demand grocery delivery or free 2-day shipping.
The article states, “Customers want to do business where and when it is easiest for them. What they don’t want is friction – something that causes conflict or resistance – because in most cases, people’s lives are already complicated and stressful enough.” And, largely, this is true. We know that even having too many steps in a sales funnel can dissuade customers. If your solution brings your customer convenience, and you make it as easy as possible for them to buy, you’re more likely to win.
The best products of all tap on all three of these in some way. Usually, they specialize in one of the above, and the other two are ancillary, contributing further to the customer’s overall experience. Continue to iterate and improve until your product can compete in each of these areas. That’s true business success.