Developing a go-to-market strategy for an imaginary super-niche product

Go-to-market strategy for a completely imaginary high-end piece of equipment for a niche sporting activity.

Product – what to sell

What is the products Unique Selling Proposition?

It is a high-performance replacement for an existing product. It allows the customer to select the other components to suit their needs and preferences.

Where does the product fit against others in the market?

Its superior performance, unique production methods and quality of construction means it exists in/creates an upper ceiling category above all other currently available alternatives. Mainstream products in the same category are most readily available with pre-set components making for an easier initial purchase but a lessened ability for customisation.

How should the product be priced?

As this product is the upgrade for other mainstream products and there are no up-sells or cross-sells available it should be priced according at the upper limit of what the market will stand rather than achieving a given margin on cost of production. This outside-in approach to pricing gives the best chance for demonstrating the products unique value and being profitable.

Market – where to sell

Distribution model

The distribution routes for taking this kind product to market are retail, most likely ecommerce, or wholesale to other retailers. Both options come with challenges around infrastructure and sufficient margin, and the challenge for attempting both is maintaining consistent pricing so that no one under cuts anyone else.

There is a third possible option, one that requires a different kind of management but reinforces the exclusivity of the product. It could be sold through community-based ‘sales-reps’ who establish relationships with potential customers, take payment, arrange delivery, and are paid on commission. This model has been successful with examples such as Avon which had products that sold best when demonstrated as part of a social activity. A similar approach could be taken with this product in which customers would buy because it is hard to get, they have to wait, they need to know the right person, etc. The Sales Rep are almost selling a secret weapon or drug dealing success.

Customer – who to sell to

How should customers be segmented?

As it is a high-end niche product the segmentation is partly achieved through there being only a small number of potential . Those customers could be segmented by geography/language to help tailor communications, or other demographic information such as wealth, but behavioural segmentation would probably be more effective. This could be achieved by surveying potential customers about their past competitive success, future aspirations and when they last upgraded their equipment. This would help to target them at the right time when they are most likely to purchase.

What does the adoption lifecycle look like?

This describes how the adoption lifecycle for this kind of product might pan out.

  • Innovators – those that want it just because it’s new, even before they know what it can do. This is an important group to get right. If the wrong people use the product in its early stages, find it doesn’t fit their needs, and then publicly criticise it, their opinions can damage the chances of other people adopting it. The right innovators are those who are already performing at a high level and can consistently demonstrate the benefits of the product whilst accepting it’s limitations.
  • Early adopters – these people follow in the footsteps of the innovators if the product is shown to be better than the alternatives and meet their needs. They are more discerning than innovators but take less convincing than the early majority.
  • Early majority – this is the group that often proves the most difficult to get to adopt the product. As the mainstream of customers they are often happy with mainstream products, but as the majority they often bring commercial success.
  • Late majority – those who struggle to understand or accept the benefits the product can provide and take lots of convincing.
  • Laggards – these people are unlikely to ever adopt the product.

The biggest challenge is crossing the chasm from early adopters to early majority.

Messaging concept

The core messaging concepts for this piece of equipment should be around its USP of being a high performance upgrade, and should be unashamedly assertive about not being a mainstream product for average customers, e.g.:

  • Upgrade your performance.
  • Level up.
  • Up your game.
  • Tired of mediocre? Bored of ordinary?
  • This is some next level shit going down right here!
  • No pretty colours to choose from, no sizes to select, it’s all about performance and its perfect as it is.
  • If you want to look pretty, move along. If you want to do better/succeed/improve, come this way my friend.
  • If you’re only going to use it a couple of times a year you should probably buy something else. It costs a lot of money, so you’d better make sure you get the most from it.