Companies need to be alert to blindly following market trends at the expense of neglecting their own attractive and unique product and service offerings.
No man is an island, and unless your business or product is really unique, it’s likely that your company and its products or services are influenced by your competitors.
To illustrate this point, cast your mind back to 2015, where mobile phone afficionados may remember the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S6. Here was Samsung’s riposte to Apple’s latest iPhone 6 and for the first time ever, it came a lot closer to matching Apple on the design front, a traditional Apple strength.
Samsung’s phones had previously been criticised for being cheap-looking and plasticky. Making up for this however, was the addition of useful features which couldn’t be found on iPhones. People were happy to forego the ‘high-design’ of the iPhone for Samsung products which they believed to suit their lifestyle better.
Whilst improving the aesthetics and materials quality of the S6 however (particularly on the Edge model with its curved display), Samsung dropped three notable features which made it stand out from Apple in the first place.
Firstly, Samsung phones were loved for having swappable batteries. As we all know, batteries remain as potential pain points on phones, deteriorating far sooner than the rest of the phone, which made Samsung’s swappable battery a highly useful feature and the envy of iPhone owners.
The same goes for removable storage. Samsung smartphones supported microSD cards, which were a cheap and effective way to add up to 128GB of storage and transfer that storage between devices. Movies, TV shows, books, photos and music could be loaded onto the cards to keep the internal storage free for apps and then moved to a new device when needed.
There was a notable disappointment that useful features had been dropped.
Lastly, the devices had a basic level of waterproofing, meaning that those inevitable dunkings in the basin/toilet didn’t mean the end of the device’s lifespan.
While traditional Samsung customers appreciated the move upmarket in terms of looks and design, there was also a notable disappointment that useful features had been dropped, features which set the Samsung phones apart and created a loyal set of consumers looking for a valid iPhone alternative.
We feel that there’s a transferable business principle here. Shifting your business priorities and/or focus to be more in-line with what the general market is doing can see you lose what made you stand out in the first place, often to detrimental effect.
By trying to match your competitors, one risks getting lost in the anonymous sea of conformity whilst alienating those who were loyal to your business because of the unique propositions it brought to market.
Instead of blindly following market trends and trying to out-imitate your competitors, there is merit to working on your defining business traits and honing their appeal until they shine like diamonds, attracting customers from near and far!
By trying to match your competitors, one risks getting lost in the anonymous sea of conformity.
In business, this often ties into following a niche marketing strategy. Finding a corner of the market not served by your competitors can work to a company’s benefit, if one is agile enough to take advantage of it.
This type of approach can fit the IT distribution industry quite well. Naturally there are big distribution behemoths which dominate the landscape, but a cursory glance through LinkedIn will reveal many smaller niched distributors as well. The industry lends itself nicely to a niche strategy too, as the tech industry is so broad and diverse that there aren’t many facets of modern life which technology does not touch or impact in some way.
From hardware servers and storage to security software, networking switches to POS systems, there are literally hundreds of niches for SME distributors and resellers to target. With the inherent agility advantage which comes with being a smaller business, distributors and resellers can focus on their particular business strengths, local knowledge and private IP, and combine it with a niche market focus to stand out and shine within their particular business environments.