IN BUSINESS, THE EARLY BIRD REALLY DOES CATCH THE WORM. WE LOOK AT THE BUSINESS PIONEERS WHO LAUNCHED FLAWED PRODUCTS AHEAD OF THEIR COMPETITORS, TO SECURE A HEALTHY SLICE OF MARKET SHARE.
Is your target audience full of early adopters, looking for something really new? If so, then think about launching your product as soon as possible, before it’s been perfected. Why? Because getting to the market first is often the key to lasting success. Take a look at these seven examples for inspiration.
Colgate was the originator of toothpaste as we know it today – packaged in a tube, with a rectangular nozzle that forces paste out in a ribbon. In 1908, this simple innovation led Colgate to position itself as the ‘ribbon dental cream’ before any of its competitors.
Colgate didn’t add toothpaste’s main protective ingredient, fluoride, into their recipe until 1968 – a whole 13 years after competitor Crest fortified theirs. But because Colgate was first to market, consumer confidence had already been cemented.
Fitbit has dominated the activity tracker category since its launch in 2008, despite its high price and limited features. The segment has since become awash with cheaper, more advanced products, but FitBit’s first-to-market status has meant that it is still the brand of choice for many customers.
The NutriBullet, launched in 2012, focused on just one function – blending whole fruits, vegetables and nuts to get more nutrients out of them than ever before. It became an overnight success and defined a new kitchen appliance consumer category. More powerful than other, more versatile blenders, the NutriBullet has since been much copied, but it still leads the market thanks to the timing of its arrival.
When high-spec smart speaker brand Sonos launched in 2002, consumers weren’t listening to their digital music libraries on high-quality home systems. Sonos made this possible and are still market leaders in 2018. Sonos was expensive and their launch offering now looks dated, but they’ve stayed ahead thanks to their timing.
Soylent and Huel currently dominate the meal replacement and nutrition market. They have both adopted an ‘iterative’ approach to product formulation, promising to incorporate the latest developments, rather than pretending to be ‘definitive’ straight away.
VHS hardware wasn’t up to the standard of its rival, the Betamax, but it dominated the market thanks to its lower retail price and better availability. As a result, VHS was readily embraced by the booming video rental industry. For the lifespan of the video cassette, until the digital world made them obsolete, VHS was the undisputed market leader despite its arguably inferior quality.
When the Volkswagen Beetle was marketed to American consumers in the 1950s, many observers laughed. Smaller than anything else on the road, it had a questionable heritage and a reputation for unreliability. So why was it such a huge hit? Timing.
It’s hard to imagine today’s roads without small cars, but when the Beetle arrived it was the first. As its legendary ad campaign pointed out, when 50s America was all about being big and brash, a new generation wanted to ‘Think Small’.