How to launch a start-up in a crowded market
In the busy world of beer, Founder Matt Lane grew his beer subscription service, Beerbods, from the ground up. In the early days, he was conducting beer tastings in his garden shed, but as word of mouth grew, he developed the idea into a carefully curated service where new beers and tasting notes were delivered monthly. When he started, in the nascent days of the craft beer revolution, he found himself as a lone innovator; a year later, his competition had grown to include 26 similar services.
Markets might be saturated but they are rarely homogenous. The top levels are often dominated by big players, which produce a completely different type of product to those further down the food chain. This is particularly true in the case of gin. For years the gin market was dominated by a few key brands – often owned by the multinational conglomerates Diageo or Pernod Ricard – whose presence dominated on- and off-trade sales. But in the last decade, a slew of smaller challengers have reinvented the way the public view gin, which has led to an explosion of pretenders to the throne.
Breaking the mould also often means refusing to do things the conventional way. Ian Hart, Master Distiller at Sacred Gin, could hardly have hoped to challenge Diageo on its own turf, so instead he took samples to his local pub every Sunday for a tasting session until the gin became so popular, the landlord decided to stock it. It was this organic growth that soon allowed him to work on an industrial scale, managing over 4,000 cases for export within a few years.
For decades, people have also been calling time on another saturated industry: budget airlines. Yet despite the truths behind over-supply arguments, the ability of budget airlines to stimulate new traffic by opening up smaller regional airports has been astonishing. Which is why new competitors like Norwegian Air and Air France’s Joon are lining up to join the likes of EasyJet and Ryanair as they battle it out in the skies, slashing prices and adding new destinations.
In almost all of these stories, the two ingredients to success in a saturated market remain the same: commitment and creativity. Whether the space is crammed with major brands or SMEs, there are always going to be new players that are able to crack these sectors with smart thinking and marketing strategies that will open up a new audience for their product.