Today's ever-increasing technological advancements have opened a huge online marketplace where one can sell almost anything to anyone anywhere in the world. But along with all these wonderful opportunities, comes its downside: everybody else knows about it too!
Yes, competition - and the better and more profitable the initial market, the faster comes its biggest problem: market saturation.
The initial competitors may, or may not, stay in the business. Many will come along, many will copy them, and many will try to price-cut them. Profits may go down, or for the new guys on the block, difficult to make in the first place. However, there are ways to survive an over-saturated market, or even to exceed your competition, and that is to plan, prepare, and do a little (or more) research.
‘Niching down’ means to identify and target certain parts of the greater market where your product can fit. A good niche is obviously one where your competition has not entered or over-supplied to, and there is still a gap between the buyers’ needs and the products available for sale.
The good part of finding your niche, is that you are not competing with every business in the whole market – just those in your niche. Instant desaturation!
Look for opportunities, do some brainstorming, and analyse your past sales, to see if you can identify the best niche for your product. The more you can niche down, the more you can refine the best place to sell your wares – and more importantly really hone in on that particular target audience.
There's a wonderful saying in marketing that I absolutely adore that goes like this:
"Sell the problem you solve, not the product you have."
Buyers buy for lots of different reasons, but by knowing and understanding your buyers’ pain points – the underlying problems that the buyer needs to solve by buying the product – will put you way ahead of the game.
Find out what your customers need, what they are complaining about, and what motivates the most to spend money to buy a product. And then produce what your competitors are producing but better.
For further help in this area, see our blog, How to Identify Your Target Market, and complete the questionnaire at the end of the article.
Trends are often the driving force behind the top sellers in any market. If you are able to analyse what these top sellers do and sell, you will probably find they have successfully identified their target market and are constantly introducing the latest trends to their range.
In a high-tech market, where social media dominates general perceptions, trends can take on a life of their own. People see something they like and immediately want to have or emulate that. If enough people react to the same thing, then it can become viral. In the old days trends were set by fashion houses or similar influencers, but now it’s a whole different ball game.
Some trends are short-lived, and some stay around for much longer. The secret is to find trends that are innovative but have a classic feature, that people will want for a longer period of time.
One of the most important things you can do, especially as the market becomes more and more saturated, is to become more creative. Your product needs to be more innovative than your competition.
This, of course, is easier said than done, however, lots of buyer and market research is the best place to start.
Innovation is about solving problems. The questions you need to answer include:
Once you start to come up with ideas, select one or two of these that you can start researching and testing. It is also a good idea, to have some buyers in mind, or even interview some of your existing buyers to obtain their input and feedback.
There are two ways to effectively enter a saturated market, and still do well. Choose whether your products will become either a premium brand or a low cost one. We all know the success stories of Rolex watches vs cheap disposable ones, or Rolls Royce vs little minis. The truth is, they both do well and both have their own markets.
The trick here is to identify which type your products apply to. Are you selling high quality, or fast-turnaround products? Choose between the two and then price them accordingly. Match your prices to leaders in those respective markets – but do not enter any price wars. If you apply some of the tips above, such as innovation, you won't need to.
What about the middle market? Typically in any market, there is a middle ground, with buyers who want a bit of both and happy to pay mid-range prices. But in a highly competitive or over-saturated market, this is the first market segment that loses ground. Your best strategy is to choose between Premium or Low Cost branding, match the requirements for these markets, and price your products accordingly.
Last, but in no way least, to compete in a saturated market, apply some innovative marketing.
Social media is of course the best and least expensive for sellers nowadays. But things have changed. You used to be able to just make a clip, post it on social media and voila! Instant followers. Now, however, you have to become more and more innovative than the rest and find ways to hold your audience attention. Always remember, people love funny, cute, music, dancing, education, and inspiration.
You can also start a series, for example #ThrowbackThursday, but be different. Or a YouTube education series, or anything applicable to your buyers to keep them coming back. Maintaining a series can also help build your credibility and expertise in your respective market.
Look at all the different and more innovative ways you can promote you, your business, your expertise, and your products online. There are hundreds of new and engaging ideas popping up all the time. All it needs, once again, is some research and lateral thinking.
Milleflore Images specializes in photography, graphic design, and stop motion video, with on-trend themes for designers and online marketplace sellers. We love to create imagery, such as product mockups, shop banners, listing videos and social media sets, to help your business grow.
Annie, of Milleflore Images, the author of these articles, has a Bachelor of Business, diplomas in photography and graphic design, and a background in accounting, marketing, and business consulting.