I have used the term ‘disposable’ to mean that the consumers investment is low, so purchase risk is limited. Buy one and find it does not deliver, and little is lost.
Over the weekend I had a casual conversation with an acquaintance who runs a small business selling such a line of disposable consumer products into a niche via specialist chain retailers, many branches being franchised, so are somewhat independent.
His problem is that he is being overrun by the scale of the retailers who take his ideas and have them fabricated in China under another brand at prices he is having increasing trouble matching. In any event, they also control shelf space, so he is at their mercy.
Not an uncommon problem.
My rather glib response was that he was trying to sell to the wrong people. His current customers, the retailers, were not actually his customers, in fact they were more like adversaries. His real customers were the ones who had a need that his products fulfilled, and the retailers were just a logistical barrier to be managed and overcome.
The retailers see the only value in his products as a range they should carry as an occasional addition to the customer basket at the cheapest price that meet their margin requirements. For them there is no investment in the success of the product, and little downside.
To the real consumers however, the question of whether they outlay $8 or $11 for the items is largely irrelevant once the buying decision, often impulse, has been made. There is little brand awareness or preference involved, there has been only modest marketing investments made, the sales come from demonstrating the utility of the product.
My advice: Set up an online shop, and actively market to the identifiable groups of customers who would benefit from using his products.
As he has a limited budget, and little brand recognition, this is potentially a make or break decision, not to be taken lightly.
Retailers will be even more disinclined to stock his products when they see him actively competing with them on line, but on the other hand, his sales volumes have been dropping steadily for some time, and the costs of doing business are increasing, so the end game is in sight.
The flip side is that the product is ideally suited to selling on line, the value is demonstrable, it is easily sent via the post, and the margin freed up by selling direct would be considerable.
A change of this nature would be uncomfortable, but I suggest the only way the business will continue to prosper, and have any value when the current owner decides it is time to retire.
Does yours fit the consumer definition of ‘Disposable?”
If so, what are you doing about it?