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Micro markets drive exceptional growth: dig them out

02.05.2010


We all know how to deliver growth: we grow organically, we target mergers and acquisitions. But is this all there is?
In this post recession (or between double dip) times, there are key opportunities around us. They are based on emerging needs that have been redefined as a result of the recession. They may involve new technologies, but mostly they will be based on re–mixing prior offers to meet the changed needs of our customers in this period of new austerity. They are micro markets: emerging opportunities that, carefully developed, provide the basis for sustainable growth.
Micro markets however need to be discovered. They have to be “dug out”. They don’t tend to jump up and scream: “We’re here! Solve our problem.” They tend to be the result of customers, suppliers and intermediaries all exchanging views, discussing what’s changing and using lateral thinking to draw out latent needs and potential solutions.


An Example:
A client of ours has recently identified a micro market with massive potential, if it can be tapped correctly. The market currently doesn’t exist as we know it. But the core drivers of need are there: high carbon fuel costs, static technologies, blinkered thinking, customer frustration with limited technological progress, social pressure to be green, financial pressure to save resources, supplier pressure to stand out and have a sustainable advantage..... the list goes on. In essence there is a latent market that can only be tapped if the right solution is found. The client believes it has found a solution. In a market with decades of patented technologies it has applied known technology in a novel way that mixes existing solutions with new thinking.
This is the secret to un-wrapping many more micro markets: thinking laterally with an open mind and a changed set of assumptions to reveal emerging customer needs and reframe existing solutions in novel and imaginative ways. This is “clever thinking” that at best delivers protectable IP, and at least provides first mover advantage. It’s not hard work, it just takes careful questioning, very careful listening and the determination to make the time to think.


Practicalities: digging out lucrative micro markets
1. Don’t do it alone: dig out needs and solutions with trusted partners (customers, suppliers, distributors).
2. “Go see”: you can’t dig out a micro market by staying at home. Get out and check out. Don’t set out to test your assumptions....put them away and listen with new ears.
3. Actively research adjacent sectors and status quo busting initiatives from other industries. (Customers’ expectations are not just set by the solutions they get in your sector, they are set by what they experience in all walks of life).
4. Use your full network: professional advisors, academics, opinion leaders, the web, Linked In etc.
5. Establish a frame of reference and work it: it’s a bit like a crime scene, blunder in and you’ll destroy the evidence, plan your approach and you’re more likely to reap the rewards.
6. Nurture, develop and frame the market to your solution (and away from competitors’ offers).

 

Andrew Lester
 

© Andrew Lester all rights reserved August 2009