Over the past decade, we’ve seen first-hand what products and business strategies have worked for our clients when importing from China. The success stories, i.e. those businesses which have scaled from small startups to successful companies, all have one thing in common. They avoided fad/hyped products.
What are Hyped Products?
Hyped products are those that come on the market with a huge amount of attention and quickly gain popularity. Think hoverboards, cheap drones, and fidget spinners.
Problems with Hyped Products
Problem 1 – It’s impossible to predict what product will become the next fad.
Problem 2 – When it does become obvious, you’ve probably missed the boat.
Problem 3 – Short product lifecycle makes it difficult to build a brand around the product. The novelty fades. In the case of consumer drones, a few companies dominate the market and the software is what drives customer loyalty to the brand/product.
Problem 4 – Hyped products by their nature are new on the market and quality problems normally haven’t been fully resolved. For instance, hoverboards were recalled due to dangerous batteries.
Problem 5 – You’re competing with thousands of people with the same idea. You have very little time to build brand awareness for your product. Essentially you are just competing on price and quality. It’s a low margin business.
Focus on Niche Not Hype
A niche product is an item that appeals to a particular market subgroup. Some examples of niche products are chairs for weddings, boat covers, and yoga mats. Unlike hyped products, niche products are unlikely to disappear from the market when the next fad comes along.
Niche products also allow you to build a brand around a product category and to develop a line of products related to that category. For instance, if you started with yoga mats, you move into yoga blocks, balance balls, kit bags, and yoga apparel.
Why it’s Hard to Scale a Business With A Hyped Product
Scaling a business requires brand recognition and loyalty. Brand loyalty is built on product quality, strong after sales service, efficient logistics, excellent marketing, and SEO. All of this takes time and money, and with fad products, there’s a risk that your resources will be wasted if the product’s popularity dies when consumer tastes change.
What’s the Alternative?
Identify a market niche that you are interested in and ideally a niche where you have some expertise. Don’t be afraid of competition. Look to optimize your product in terms of design and price. Then focus on marketing, customer service, and building out new product lines within that product category.