There was a time when entering a saturated market was likely to spell disaster for a new, unknown brand. But today, that's no longer the case. The internet has made it possible for new businesses to enter the market successfully, and it's also made it possible for them to thrive--even if they're competing against big, established brands.
However, that doesn't mean it's a given that your business will make it. There's some finesse that goes into succeeding in a saturated market. Here are a few tips.
Be true to your brand
Your mission, values, brand voice, brand personality, customer service--if you're in a saturated market, it's these things that will differentiate you from your competitors. You may be selling the same product as your competitors or a similar one, but you aren't selling it in exactly the same way.
So zero in on what makes your company different. Do you donate a percentage of sales to a charity? Do you have a highly entertaining Instagram presence?
Find the gap in the market.
While your market may be saturated, there's almost always a gap that needs to be filled--you just have to find it.
For most businesses, that will mean first assessing your own strengths. What are you particularly good at? Do you have a logistics background that means you know how to fill orders fast and accurately? Do you have contacts in another country that would make it easy for you to expand into that region? Is your web designer also able to create an app that would streamline the purchase process for your customers?
When you identify the skills or advantages you have, you're better able to see how they can be used to fill an existing void.
For example, consider Cheetah Digital, a customer-engagement suite for marketers. Now, there are plenty of customer-engagement tools available, and many that offer the same sorts of tools--data capture, email campaigns, and customer journey design. Cheetah Digital, however, is filling a gap by offering all these services in a la carte packages, plus a customer loyalty program that can help brands gain even more value out of those services.
Now, some businesses will be able to first identify the gap, and then find a way to fill it--this approach can work, for example, for serial entrepreneurs who are experienced in starting and running a business. But for most brands, it makes a lot more sense to work the other way around.
Anticipate change in your industry.
Industries change and evolve all the time, whether because of legislation, changes in customer behavior, or new technology.
Most companies will be satisfied staying comfortably where they are: in the present, doing things the way they've always done them. But a few will always be on the lookout for what's to come.
By anticipating trends, keeping an eye on new technologies that are in development, and generally thinking about how your industry will evolve over the next year or five years, you can push your brand to the front of your industry.
An example of this is the restaurant tech company OneDine. OneDine developed its app-based restaurant ordering system a few years ago because it saw that that's where the industry was heading. The company was far ahead of the restaurant industry as a whole, and over the first couple of years, it grew at a steady pace. Then 2020 hit, and suddenly, every restaurant needed a way for customers to order and pay for their food online.
Now, OneDine didn't foresee the pandemic, obviously, but it could see how customer behavior was changing and it hopped on the trend before nearly anyone else. And while it's true that some customers won't be ready to come along with you when you anticipate trends like that, some will--and when the others finally catch up, you'll be ready and waiting to serve them.
Succeeding in a saturated market is entirely possible. You just have to know your brand, look for the market gaps, and keep an eye on the horizon.