While writing a guest blogpost for FishHound, I made what I think was a very important point that I’ll only touch on here: You don’t need to be the first player in a market or category to be the most successful. (Ed. note. In a later blogpost, I’ll detail why it’s often detrimental to be first in a market or category.)
Think about it: There are numerous examples in our own industry of companies creating a product that opens up an entirely different market (e.g., the Mann’s Slick Lures Alabama Rig), yet that hardly means the first company will end up being the most successful. I know, I know. First-mover advantage, blah, blah, blah… But that advantage is often short-lived and is based on the first mover making enough hay early on that they can successfully fend off competitors. Let me tell you, that seldom happens, especially in this industry.
More often than not, the first mover enjoys early success, becomes swamped with sales demands it cannot meet, then eventually infuriates customers by trading quantity for quality. (I’m sure we can all think of numerous relevant examples.) In the meantime, competitors rush in, more often than not with a superior product that is competitively priced. The most successful of these followers capitalize on a perceived defect in the original product, gaining loyal customers in the process.
Toyota provides one of the best examples. Whether it’s minivans or large trucks, such as the full-size Tundra, they have never prided themselves on being the first to market; they only care about being perceived as the best option. Consider that when Dodge virtually created the minivan category in 1984, when the company introduced the Caravan, it was six years before Toyota introduced the Previa minivan, but it’s successor, the Sienna, remains one of the top sellers and is considered far and away one of the best the market. A more recent example is the the Tundra, which was introduced in 1999, but has fast become one of the most popular, best-selling pickups.
There are numerous examples in our industry as well, including the YUMbrella, YUM’s castable umbrella rig that quickly capitalized on some perceived missteps by the Mann’s Slick Lures Alabama Rig. Yet, I see too many companies half-heartedly entering a category as a late entrant, then resigning to be No. 2 or worse. Don’t be one of those companies.
Instead, look for “holes,” things you can take advantage of in the first-mover product. Maybe it’s a design flaw, maybe it’s lack of distribution. Whatever it is, step into that void and fill it with vigor and without apology.
(Image provided by Ruben Vermeersch, via Flickr.)