I have worked with numerous start-ups over the years, some based in the UK and others in the Far East. I have always tried to help formulate a plan they can employ to maximise their chance of success.

One of the biggest issues that many of the companies I have worked with faced was under estimating not just the cost of investing in a business but the time it takes to bring said product to market.

So many factors can affect a company’s ability to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts as to the key ingredients that new businesses looking to launch a brand should consider.

I’m not going to bore you will the usual playbook on how to build a brand, where we talk about target audience, identifying a gap in the market, having a great quality product blah blah blah.

Many companies I have worked with will develop a product and totally focus on the product itself believing naively that if the product is great and the price is right, everybody will want one and the brand will grow on the back of sales of this great product. Sadly, the world is full of great products which never succeeded.

I want to share what I believe are the business-critical elements to successfully launch and build a branded business in a saturated market.

Try to be Niche

Many people fear the word niche as meaning small and when applied to sales

It’s much more effective to carve out a business if you become an expert in a particular area.

Firstly, you can look at the players in your market and identify which have negative stereotypes. For example, if it was food, you might see that within a certain category a particular product was deemed unhealthy. You could look at ‘fixing’ this by developing a ‘healthy’ version of that food. This method can be applied across any industry.

Pricing Strategy

Too often I have worked with companies who wish to position their products at similar levels to brand leaders. The problem is that as a new or challenger brand, you may have a fantastic product, but if consumers have not heard of your brand there is not the trust there yet to command premium prices. Often, I get brands who are successful in that they may be at a premium price position in their own domestic markets wanting to maintain the same price points when exporting into new markets but fail to understand that every country is different and that each country will have its own established brand hierarchy. If you are a new relatively unknown brand moving into a new territory, accept this and adjust your pricing accordingly. When Korean giant LG (Lucky Goldstar) launched in the UK in the late 80’s no one had heard of them. They took the decision to sell their products at a significant

discount to the established brands of the day and slowly took market share by selling at the value end of the market. Step by step LG re-invested in R&D and marketing and slowly was able to increase their ASP’s (average selling prices) and start to reposition from an entry level brand to a mid-tier brand. Fast forward to today and LG, are recognised as a market leading brand and is now the second largest TV manufacturer in the world.

My advice to a new brand entering an already established market with competitive products would be to position your pricing close to or similar to your target competition, but bring your price down through promotional pricing rather than starting with lower fixed prices which you will then find much tougher to increase, which typically meets much more resistance from consumers and trade customers alike.

Often it can be difficult finding you position in an already established market. Without a definitive USP (unique selling point) for example new technology or other defining features creating a value proposition can be tough if you have nothing to really differentiate you from your competition. In these circumstances you could look at adding value to your offering. Look at what your competition are offering and add something more. Examples of this could be an extended warranty period, trade in options, free accessories to name a few.

If the market you are targeting is extremely saturated then look at targeting a particular product and/or customer segment in that market and become a ‘specialist’ in that particular segment. By specialising and targeting a particular niche/segment you can build your brand reputation and then move into the wider market in a position of strength.

Launching a new brand into a saturated market is tough, rates of failure are high, but it is not impossible to succeed. By defining an effective strategy it is possible to penetrate and succeed.