There were shoes and there are shoes.
There were body creams and there are body creams.
There were shirts and there are shirts.
There were cars and there are cars.
There were watches and there are watches.
Most of the markets now are plagued by oversupply. The marketing system presides over production capacity that is far more than that can be easily accommodated by markets. So the challenge is how to get customers to buy more products that what they actually need? So if a customer needs shoes or shirts, how many a marketer can really pushed on to him? Not many. If a shoe is a shoe is a shoe and a shirt is a shirt is a shirt in his perception.
The strategy to get more out a customer is to disallow a new product or brand from being perceived similar to what already exists. Similarity runs counter to accumulation and excess consumption. So if you are a producer of a body cream you can multiply volume by targeting body parts by slicing cream category into different sub categories. What gives opportunity for greater profit is that different body parts are governed by their own price elasticity and customer motivation. Remember Pond’s cold cream which used to be all in one solution. But now we have face creams, under eye creams, body creams, feet creams and heel creams. So a body soap that could easily be used to wash faces commands much less price than a face wash. Though it is essentially liquefied soap packed in a tube. Therefore customer is made to perceive face wash as a different category form body soap. Then there is hand wash, and a company has launched new brand V Wash.
How many wrist watches can a company like Titan sell to a customer? The above strategy of targeting body parts prima facie does not exist. So the watch marketers sliced the all in one category into sub categories like sports watch, office watch, club watch, swimming watch, special occasion/ jewelry watch, gift watch, mountaineering watch, and flying watch. Here I am not referring to different customer groups rather different occasions/activities when a watch could be worn by a customer. The shirt marketers have done this brilliantly. So explore shirts collections of brands like Louis Philippe or Zodiac. The marketers have done this by redefining the ‘appropriateness’. The movement of a quintessential watch into different categories of activities is thwarted by engendering a sense of anxiety and fear of being out of place. So if you hit tennis court with an office watch on your wrist, it is certainly a cause of embarrassment.
How does one participate in this category slicing process? Two brands to arrive in the shoes market are: Yezdi and D’Vano. These brands are new and have sliced the shoes category in an innovative manner. Yezdi offers shoes as ‘biker shoes collection’ and D’Vano claims ‘Look taller with height increasing shoes’. Categories are mental constructions. It is a scheme that mind uses to classify and order things to avoid chaos. The benefit owing the category occurs usually to first mover simply because this of its newness. This is the reason why the Everest climbers’ category is owned by Sherpa Tensing and Hillary and RO water purifier category is dominated by Kent.
Category slicing is an effective strategy for an aggressor who seeks to join an established market. As a consequence a new unheard brand is pristinely connected to a new category. The incumbent players try to get into new categories by launching a version of their current brand. For instance, Acquaguard got in into RO category with new variation. From economic perspective, this strategy of launching variation makes perfect sense. It presents an efficient way of participation in a new category. But from customer’s information processing perspective it is ineffective.
For instance, if you were to choose toothpaste for sensitive teeth, which one will you reach out to: Colgate Sensitive or Sensodyne? Mentally the problem of caring for sensitive teeth represents a different category that ordinary oral hygiene. Therefore the first mover is likely to be favored. Category splintering is inherent in a marketing game. Since markets are not static systems, new players will always attack flanks and carve out markets by reaching out customers who reside on the periphery of mainline brand. This is the reason why those marketers who act like mouse on the wheel succeed.