Market Leaders are Imaginative
A good business focuses on the current needs of their audience.
A great business anticipates the needs of their audience.
A market leader anticipates the anticipation of their audience.
For example, think how Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, or Elon Musk, all may not have had completely original ideas, however they still not just anticipated where the market was going, but anticipated the market’s anticipation on a massive scale.
Sure, it’s easy to point to extremely inventive examples like the above. So I’d like to emphasize that when you anticipate the anticipation of the market, it’s not so much about being inventive as it is being imaginative.
Sara Blakely (Spanx), Brian Chesky (Airbnb), Travis Kalanick (Uber) are great high profile examples of people who didn’t end up creating an entire new industry. However, they experienced, observed, and dared to imagine new opportunities within established industries. From pantyhose to taxis and hotels, these individuals took what was already there and decided to add a twist. Not just for the sake of spicing it up, but imagined where the markets could go in the longterm.
The value here is that by having this type of longterm and imaginative vision, the product or service does not need to be perfect from the get-go. They have claimed dominance and are able to perfect their service/product and still grow the brand along the way as the market catches up. They even sell to the audience something the audience didn’t know they wanted/needed!
Blakely cut the feet off of pantyhoes, Chesky stayed in the homes of strangers, Ford replaced the most common mode of transportation (the horse and buggy) with a metal contraption. All seem quite ridiculous and odd at first… until others realized they had the same problems and/or wishes as these creative founders.
When anticipating what a market will desire, “odd” is sometimes exactly what is needed. Capitalism actually rewards this behavior due to the fact that businesses who venture out and think outside-the-box are the ones who can bring tremendous value to lives. With this risk comes great reward.
Since a market leader is in-tune with their market and looking ahead for where not just the market is going, but the actual behavior of their audience, they have a strong advantage over competition through this perception and brand now associated with their business.
A great example that we have all encountered is Target. At the time you had high-end designer retail and affordable WalMart options available to consumers. Target anticipated the anticipation of the market by imagining a world where consumers could buyer “designer” clothes at an affordable price. In order to achieve this, they created their own designer lines (like GoodFellow and Up&Up) so that they removed the middlemen and could offer the goods at a lower price. This carved out their niche in the market and has proven a very successful model.
Businesses serve the past and present. Market leaders serve the future and beyond, but only by observing the behavior of their audience and applying their imaginations.
Originally published at https://ournegative.space