Target people who have never used a product like yours before. (It’s what Clayton Christensen calls “competing against nonconsumption.”) These people don’t know a solution exists or the ones they’ve tried were too expensive or confusing. These folks aren’t picky (yet). They just want something simple that works.
That means you can win by creating something that’s good enough to meet these basic needs. There’s always more customers on the low/simple end than the high/expensive end. (The low/simple end may not demo as well to the press at a trade show, but it’s what a ton of people actually want.)
1. Nintendo goes after people who aren’t using other video game systems. While Xbox 360 and Sony one-up each other trying to reach experienced, demanding gamers, Nintendo goes after newbies. The Wii’s controller makes video games so simple that a three year-old can play it. And the company is thriving because of it.
2. The Jitterbug is a cell phone created for senior citizens and others who find traditional cell phones too complicated. While fancier phones offer tons of features and apps, the Jitterbug stays simple and focuses on what its demographic cares about. The phone has a large screen and keypad, offers a landline-like dial tone, has an extra powerful speaker, is hearing-aid compatible, and there are no contracts involved.
3. Nearly half of all undergraduate students in the US now attend community college. Why? They are more affordable, have more lenient admission standards, offer online degrees, and focus on market-driven degrees aimed at nurses, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and EMTs. All that means they are able to enroll students who otherwise might never wind up in a classroom.
If you build a simpler, more affordable alternative to what’s out there already, you can bring new people into the fold. You don’t have to grab a piece of someone else’s pie — just bake a new one.
Related: How Obama targets nonconsumption [SvN]