When Everything Needs to Change, Even Small Ponds Get Mighty Big by Bill Attardi - Energy Watch News

When Everything Needs to Change, Even Small Ponds Get Mighty Big by Bill Attardi

In my last blog, I stated: One strategy that seems to work with high-tech companies is to dominate small niche markets first: A big fish in small pond strategy. And then I asked a bunch of questions. Well, I cannot answer them all but I sure can talk about niche marketing. What’s so hard, we have been doing it forever. Maybe you noticed but lighting is everywhere. So marketing teaches us that if we know where we are going, we will get there eventually or maybe Yogi taught us that. Anyway, we continue to breakdown the market into meaningful segments, target a specific niche market as our point of attack, focus our resources on achieving a leadership position, and voila, we will be successful in the lighting business forever.

Well, I have been in lighting forever and traditionally we have segmented the markets into viable meaningful segments large enough to be attractive for participation and penetration. You may have a similar list but here is mine:
1. Commercial – office environment
2. Industrial – manufacturing companies (OEMs)
3. Retail – businesses that resell products to the consumer
4. Healthcare – medical facilities to cure / relieve illness
5. Hospitality – service industry dealing with food and lodging
6. Institutional / Educational – schools and institutions of learning
7. Government – federal, state and local government facilities
8. Street Lighting / Parking Lots & Garages
9. Buildings / Monuments / Shrines / Events
10. Museums / Art Galleries / Exhibitions / Churches / Halls of Fame
11. Convention Centers / Trade Shows / Theaters / Entertainment Sites
12. Parks / Recreation / Sports Lighting
13. Real Estate / Property Management / Construction
14. Warehousing / Distribution Centers
15. Residential – homes

Pretty good list, huh? And they all buy lights if that’s all you are selling. But we are not just selling illumination anymore Folks. We are going beyond lights, way beyond lights. They want to buy Intelligent Lighting: in addition to the stalwarts of quality of light, energy efficiency, and long-life, lighting products are being introduced that will not only allow for consumers to manipulate the timing, intensity, and quality of light but will internally track and react and adapt to the users’ living and working patterns. Intelligent Lighting is now about Li-Fi connectivity, it has its own apps, IoT / IoE / PoE applications, embedded devices, sophisticated personal control capabilities, interactive communications, energy monitoring, mobile wireless communications, automatic dimming, color tuning, IT network technologies, plug-and-play interaction, facial recognition, integrated security, surveillance, connected lamps programmed to research the space, the ability to transmit sensitive information, wireless protocol implementations, web services, and backend infrastructure. Did I leave anything out….I’m sure I did. Stay tuned…..

The small ponds are getting bigger and they have special needs, needs they don’t even know they need. Here are some other things to consider: be sure the specific market segment is unique / attractive in size, an application fit to your offering, has special needs you can satisfy, realized sales & profitability growth, accessible to distribution, not well defended by your competition, no brand of choice. Then segmenting the segments makes a lot of sense because dominating smaller high potential ponds in the technological age leads to much greater opportunities.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s take the Retail segment – businesses that resell products to the consumer. Many handle this segment as National Accounts business. I can hear my good friend Chris Brown screaming disintermediation…..so be it but that’s not the point. When we were selling them just light, the retail market segment was very attractive to lamp and luminaire companies forever. But can we segment this segment into more meaningful / attractive segments? How about:
 Supermarkets / Grocery / Food
 Convenience Stores
 General Merchandisers / Discounters
 Hardware / DIY
 Department Stores
 Drug Stores
 Malls / Shopping Centers
 Wholesale Clubs Furniture Stores
 Auto Showrooms Boutiques
 Soft Goods Shops
 Jewelry Stores
 Airport Stores

Let’s look at another attractive segment: Healthcare – medical facilities to cure / relieve illness
 Hospitals
 Medical office
 Dental office
 Rehabilitation facilities
 Assisted living
 Nursing homes

…..or maybe Hospitality – the service industry dealing with food and lodging
 Hotels Chains
 Motels
 Social clubs
 Restaurants….I can break them down too:
Full Service
• Italian American
• Chinese American
• Contemporary
• Steaks & Chops
• International
• Specialty
Fast Food
• Sandwich
• Ice Cream
• Pizza
• Chicken
• Coffee / Pastry
• Salads / Juices

Ok, I did say meaningful and attractive market segments. But think about it…….every lighting source will be replaced over the next 5 to 10 years. Everything. That means every Taco Bell, every Home Depot, every Olive Garden, every hotel, hospital, supermarket will be upgraded to Intelligent Lighting and to all the advanced technologies that connect everything we do. Will they all have the same needs… I don’t think so. Small ponds will become mighty big. You decide where you want to play. I believe you can further segment all the traditional market segments….I did just three (3). Now it’s up to you. Where do you want to dominate? Not just a leadership position but a dominant leadership position…. THE SUSTAINABLE BRAND OF CHOICE!

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3 comments on “When Everything Needs to Change, Even Small Ponds Get Mighty Big by Bill Attardi

  1. David Gordon says:

    Bill – you are correct in the niche marketing approach. It requires customer research to understand needs and can be executed on by all, however, distributors need a decent sized footprint for it to move sales and justify investment, otherwise the manufacturer needs to provide them the appropriate tools.

  2. Bill,
    This segmentation listing is helpful with respect to understanding the “big fish/small pond” reference in your earlier blog entry. Still, each of these segmented areas is in itself a large market. So the question remains how to find the right “small pond”. I don’t believe it is sufficient to just decide to focus of retail. Lots of people are trying to sell into retail all the time. The large retailers already have extensive contracts with one of the majors.
    In my opinion, the answer lies in both segmentation and technology. If you are going to focus on Doctors and Dentists (and there are lots of them), i don’t think it is sufficient to just bring an off the shelf LED lamp replacement, they probably already know about LEDs. But, how about LEDs that change color to match circadian rhythms? Patients will feel better and value the services more.
    This is simply an example of how matching specific technologies to market segments can further your initial concept.
    The more specific the combination, the greater the potential margins should be and the greater the value the seller brings to their customers.
    I am sure that there are segment specific technologies that can be identified and exploited by aggressive sales organizations.

    The Giants- Eagles game was a real battle titans.

    • Sean J. Crean says:

      Spot on observation Bart, the niche concept is infinitely granular in its scope. In identifying said opportunities, one can opine that it potentially can transform the market to a more egalitarian playing field that levels the advantage between the often Independent nimble and customer focused service provider vs. the proverbial Goliath of commoditization and margin erasure currently mirrored in large distribution. If you are interested in patented Circadian rhythm lighting technology/products, I know a guy you might call, Counselor.

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