November 26, 2018
The Need for Greater Differentiation Within the Outdoor Industry
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Touring the Outdoor Retailer trade show a few weeks ago, I was struck again by how much of the industry is littered with small, enthusiast run companies that are just copying others. Stand up paddle boards (SUP) and insulated coolers are two more recent examples who were all thinking that the explosion of this sport was going to continue unabated. Looking back at the history of many other once-hot categories like snowboards, inline skates
So, how can a company compete with these dynamics? First, it can create a first-mover advantage by creating a new category or a new product or service that meets the needs of consumers better than what's out there today. Examples include Vibram Five Fingers shoes, PowerBar, Leatherman, to name a few. Yet, just being first to market isn't often enough of an advantage to survive. Brand building, I would argue, is the single most important thing a company needs to do in the consumer space. It's very hard for most consumers to truly know the difference between the products they buy, whether it's shoes, clothes, cars or cereal. One of the main reasons companies like Nike, The North Face
So, the next time you're thinking about jumping onto the next hot trend, ask yourself two questions. First, what could you do differently to create sustainable competitive advantage? Second, as a consumer, should I buy this hot product now or wait, to get it at 50% next year, when the fad starts to fade? Happy shopping!
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