Archive for May, 2021

Customizing Products and Services Presents Entrepreneurs a Great Way to Bootstrap a Business

May 4th, 2021

We live in a world where mass production and scalability have enabled consumers around the world the opportunity to enjoy a wider range of Consumer Products and Services than ever before. Large scale production drives down prices. Items that were once luxuries are now within reach of masses of consumers on every continent.

Overwhelmingly the benefits of scale and industrialization are beneficial to society. Jobs, distribution opportunities, global trade and finance have all thrived in large part because of the benefits of a consumer driven world. The Benetton sweater or MAC cosmetic that is purchased in Denver is the same as a unit of either sold in Sydney.

There is a downside to mass production, a downside that presents opportunities for those seeking to position their enterprise successfully within the whirl of this hyper–competitive consumer marketplace. Most mass produced products are impersonal. They offer value, utility and uniform performance features. They do not, however, differentiate themselves significantly from competitors. This is where the creative and craft minded producers can maximize their offerings.

Hermes purses and scarves are famous, but simple examples of a Brand that has been built from scratch, painstakingly over time and by being extremely protective of distribution channels for their limited production, hand crafted products. Hermes controls the price and design of each unit produced with a discipline that borders on fanaticism. When a design becomes popular and demand soars, the family owned Company caps production far short of maximum sales potential. This is a classic example of a limited distribution strategy that serves to increase Hermes’ product desirability among discerning consumers.

Ferrari automobiles, Zegna menswear, Piaget watches, Tory Burch fashions and La Prairie Skin Care and Cosmetics are other examples of Brands that have created world-wide franchises by avoiding any taint of a mass production model. They sell service, customization and personalized product that elite customers demand. The strategy does not need to be limited to exclusive couture brands, however!

The Branding and Marketing Consulting firm that we manage utilizes many different forms of personalized service or customized product assembly to differentiate our clients. In order to be able to compete with behemoth, multi-national brands a new company must be able to identify their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A better ingredient story or a better mousetrap design will not suffice.

Recently a prospective client approached us with a Perfume concept. The Fragrance world is huge and brutally competitive. The perfumer we met with was keen to commercialize a range of scents, mainly by utilizing generic top notes. We spent a good deal of time trying to define a USP that would differentiate her product, while creating a niche she could occupy. The final, agreed suggestion was to sell a value added personalized blending service with each offering customized, value added and unique to each client. There are a number of added special service features which insure that the Brand will be perceived as unique by her “alpha” clientele.

We have utilized one form or another of this strategy for Gourmet Food products, Toys, Cosmetics, Wellness regimens, Service Providers and many other client projects. An important feature of this strategy is the opportunity to bootstrap the product or service when limited resources are at hand. Local sales can be leveraged to regional sales and beyond. The enterprise can be grown at a pace that is more easily handled by thinly resourced entrepreneurs.

Red Bull, Snapple and Arizona Iced Tea did not start as national and international brands. They were bootstrapped. They found holes in saturated, developed marketplaces and they filled niches. This model is available to creative entrepreneurs who are driven to compete, but understand that they must deal from a different, smaller deck of cards.

by: Geoff Ficke

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.