Wal Mart, Kroger, and Costco all have one thing in common that can teach all inventors a great lesson – being “second” to market can make you a winner!
I just read an article about how Whole Foods has been losing ground to the likes of Wal Mart in the sales of organic foods – even though Whole Foods unofficially brought organic food to the forefront and at steep prices. Trader Joes and others have been around a long time and have been in the business and also have learned how to tackle Whole Foods by offering private label or house brands at lower prices than Whole Foods and therefore succeeding at the organic food game.
What can an inventor learn from this? When you invent something completely new novel, it seems at first that you will be the most successful as you pioneer your never seen before product into the masses. While this can be true and its always great to see truly new items ( and I never woudl want to discourage anyone from making something completely new and novel as some of the great ideas in the world were items that fit this criteria), what happens much more often is that the inventor who tweeks and changes an existing item has more success. Examples abound…look at what’s in stores. A VCR becomes a Blue Ray player, a flip cell phone becomes an Iphone that is essentially a hand held computer, a blanket without sleeves becomes one with sleeves! Its endless….but what these inventions all have in common is that they are improved and updated versions of existing items. These items are already recognized by most people and so there is a built in awareness for them. So, when the new and improved invention comes along, people appreciate the changes and buy it up!
The point is that being second or third to market can actually be a blessing for many. Retailers like Wal Mart and Kroger have studied the organic fod market and learned what Whole Foods does well and where they are lacking. From there, they can “invent” a new concept or product offerings and begin to take market share for a category of products that already exists simply by tweaking and changing things. Riding the coat tails of an existing item can make life easier for an inventor and it often is easier on the wallet as you not spending a ton of money developing, testing, and making something that has not yet be proven.
Either way…learn your market and see how you can take advantage and profit!