HOW SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS CAN TAP INTO UNDESERVED MARKETS
In our last instagram live, we discussed how high end stores are leveraging the insatiable needs of customers and providing a ONE stop experiences both offline and online.
Stores like Ebano, Shoprite, Spar,Hubmart ,Grandsquare,here in Lagos Nigeria and the list is endless.
These stores are carved out to serve most upwardly mobile citizens that can afford to stock their pantries at either month end or whenever they actually do shop.
This means as small business owners there is a huge percentage of customers who do not fit into this category yet they need to be serviced on an almost daily basis.
SEE MONEYYYYYYYYYYYYYY RIGHT.
Let me give you an analogy of what some foreign companies did recently, AMAZON AND LENDUP.
Amazon has a yearly subscription plan for customers that goes for about $100 per annum, this cadre of customers exists and have been taking this offer, but Amazon realised there is a huge percentage of people who also needs this service too but cannot afford to pay 100$ per annum.
What did they do? They broke down that subscription fee to 5.99$/month and increased their delivery day to 2days, this is a win win for both parties.
The lower class needs have been met, which is an entirely new market and very profitable one for amazon and the customers are more than happy.
What does this mean for Amazon? New stream of income introduced (more profit)
Lendup is an online lending company that offers credit cards and loans to consumers according to their needs. Online mostly offers payday loans but recently raised about 200m$ to cater to the under banked segment of their customers. Look at that amount 200m$ that is a whole lot to dedicate to this segment, you know why? There is a great potential profit coming out of this segment.(also new stream of income)
Small business owners can tap into this unreserved market and enjoy great profit as well as customer loyalty if you can identify this needs. Here are the key steps to consider.
1) WHAT NEEDS ARENT CURRENTLY WELL MET IN YOUR TARGET SEGMENT?
Start by understanding which needs aren’t well met in your target segment
Start small and specific—instead of “low income consumers,” how about “low income parents of toddlers living in urban centers.” If you can delight a few hundred people, or even a few dozen, by providing them with something they’ve longed for, you are well on your way to a successful new business. From there, you can extend your offering as you saturate each market.
There are many industries in which low income consumers are underserved today, most of which are due to lack of access to transportation and to financial services, such as credit cards, bank accounts, and loans. Amazon Prime’s $5.99/month offering for EBT cardholders overcame both of these limitations. Uber and other ride sharing services provide affordable transportation to people who may not be able to afford their own car. There is plenty of room in various industries, such as in grocery delivery, health care, and after-school programming for kids, just to name a few.
2. Determine how you can solve the problem
From here, brainstorm ways to serve them—and focus on everything you could do to solve the problem entirely and forever for the customer. The key is to think outside the proverbial box about what it is customers really want and need in their lives, rather than looking for short-term solutions through the lens of what you currently sell.
For example, if you own a dry cleaner, think beyond “a better cleaning process” to “having clean clothes in my closet” which is a bigger, longer term goal. While some people want to own a car, most people just want reliable, convenient transportation whenever they need it, preferably without the hassles of maintenance and financing.
What is the big goal of your business? What kind of “forever promise” can you make to the people you serve?
Keeping people healthy (doctor, clinic, gym)?
Ensuring that they’re up-to-date about local events (newspaper)?
Spirituality and community (church, temple, mosque)?
When you take a step back and think about how your services and products fit into your customer’s lives, you’ll identify new combinations of services that can be uniquely packaged.
Consider some of the emerging technologies that might allow you to deliver in a differently. For example, can you create a regular delivery or service schedule and give your members the ability to adjust their routines? Or you could provide online support in addition to telephone, or mobile access for on the go.
You can always scale your offering back from this ideal vision, but it’s helpful to think big.
Brian Chesky, the founder of AirBnb, talks about providing an “11 star” experience—meaning, way more than a 5-star experience.
For example, he says:
“I’d get off the plane and there’d be 5,000 high school kids cheering my name with cars welcoming me to the country. I’d get to the front yard of your house and there’d be a press conference for me, and it would be just a mindf**k experience.”
- Scale back to your minimum viable product (MVP)
What can you do today that would delight the people you want to serve? Maybe you can’t provide your customers with a cheering mob, but you can think of something pretty special and different.
For example, if your 11-star experience is providing home delivery of organic food at a low price to everyone, maybe you start with home delivery of a weekly meal each Tuesday to a single community. Once you have a small sign of success, you can expand—maybe to more markets, or by offering more services, or by lowering the pricing. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
As you try new approaches, before you invest in systematizing and scaling the processes of each idea, test them in a less efficient way. For example, before you hire a team of delivery drivers, maybe the project team can do deliveries, until the model is proven and refined.
Determine what you can provide your target group that gets as close to an 11-star experience as possible. Test it with a small group. Solicit feedback from the group and iterate. When you’re small, you can be nimble and adjust services, packaging and pricing as you go.
- Continue refining your offering
Keep tinkering with your offering and your target buyer until you have a perfect match, what is known as “product-market fit.” Only after you know your customers love it and have gone from being consumers evaluating other options, to “members” who are totally committed to you, do you start investing in building awareness about your offering.
This process is true, by the way, of any underserved segment, not just low-income consumers. Small businesses have an advantage in that you probably actually know your best customers already, so you have unique access to their needs and challenges. You can do this process without fancy databases and technology because you truly understand your market, and also because you don’t need to scale to serve millions in order to have a successful business.
So start by thinking really small and really focused. Help a small group with a deep problem—especially one that has been ignored. Focus on making the problem go away and don’t limit yourself to “how it’s always been done.” If you look to markets that are too small or too challenging for large companies to really focus on, you might find build the kind of loyalty that lasts forever.