Monday, March 16, 2009

If Not Now, Then When?

So where are we on the curve??

Today's New York Times had a very interesting piece on the impact of recession changing the competitive dynamics of industry: It started me thinking about the implications for the millions of us out here trying to find our own way out of the situation.

In short the NYT's thesis is that recessions change the status quo: And these changes result in opportunity.

The opportunities can manifest in any number of ways - from creating new low cost producers to businesses that lead consumer needs and get to the marketplace before competitors. But for me, the most interesting comments are that recession creates ideators who do not have existing job stability at risk, they have a low input cost environment, and a low cost/high quality labor pool available to help execute their plans.

As someone who is considering all opportunities that this downturn offers, I think it is interesting to consider just which consumer trends will be those that big manufacturers will miss: Which opportunities do they pass up because their believe:

1) The opportunity is too small to expend resources on.
2) The opportunity is not congruent with the conventional wisdom of their business strategy.
3) Pursuing the opportunity creates internal political divisions that cannot be easily resolved.

As a result the opportunity to win is in not only building on an unmet consumer need, but also using the leverage of small, un-encumbered businesses to build strategies that big competitors cannot easily match.

POM has been a recent exponent of this, building a super-premium priced offering, and taking the product to consumers through the produce section of grocery stores.

Now to figure out where that next opportunity is...

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