Filling a Market Gap

Where is there a market opportunity for a new product or service?  Usually it is in an unmet gap in your marketplace that no one is adequately serving. Often it comes at an inflection point if you are paying attention. 

Gaps are those thin openings where entrepreneurs often stumble upon where they witness a market need that is unmet.  Business schools teach elaborate and complex techniques for mapping out those opportunities using 2 X 2 diagrams. But so often, it is in the daydreaming and wandering about that clever individuals see opportunities.

A gap usually happens at an intersection between two different markets. It could be at the connecting point between toys and learning games where a new product fills a need for both fun and education. It can be through bringing new users to something that typically serves another demographics like a tattoo parlor for senior citizens. 

How can you find these opportunities and find an unmet gap that needs filling? 

Starting Point
Gaps or market needs are often right in front of us but we don’t see it clearly.  But these unmet needs usually come at inflection points where an existing business is failing to meet an important need by a customer. So often, the gap is in a narrow segment of a business that is unattended to and requires attention. 

To find gaps, ask these questions:

Where is a business failing at serving its customers? Maybe they are adequate or good at some areas but what part of their products or services fail to create delighted customers?

What niche is no one paying attention? When you google a few key words and nothing shows up, it may mean that no one is focused on this area and cracks of light might emerge that quietly whisper o p p o rt u n i t y.

Return to the Past: 
Some business categories disappeared years ago and are just awaiting someone to refresh an old idea.  Think of Pie Shops or Shoe Repair Stores.  Gaps from the past might provide glimpses into a contemporary need.
Listen to the complaints: 
Do you ever ask friends and acquaintances what they wish someone could do for them to make life easier? Social media allows for a lot of listening opportunities but sometimes when you hear a repeated pattern of complaining, something isn’t being satisfied.

Gaps Can’t Be Seen By Everyone

Charity Water - Sip the possibilities 

A company in Australia is selling bottled water for charity. Charity: Water is  a non-profit that saw a gap in the market.  How can you connect our obsession with bottled water with the market need to help poor communities get clean drinking water? With a little bit of insight and inspiration, they are quenching a need.

An allergic reaction to a need
Sweet Alexis is a company that saw a need for allergy-free cookies and baked goods. With over 12 million people suffering from allergies, no one was filling this gap to focus on this segment. This company was founded by a woman whose daughter had severe allergic reactions to products from birth and the unmet need was her own. Where could she find products to support her daughter?

A close shave that fills a gap
The Shave is a high end barber shop where they specialize in custom shaves for men. This luxury end of the market was an unserved segment that an entrepreneur decided to clip.  They offer memberships as if this was a club so this gap is at an intersection between a barbershop and a men’s country club. This is a niche that no one was filling as it was a response to the idea that this moment in the day could be owned by someone.  

Not everybody sees the same opening in a market. We might get so worried about HOW we will do something that we lose sight of the important reason WHY.  Finding market needs isn’t purely left or right brain in nature, it is often blurry and unclear.  Yet at its core should be the combination of your own enthusiasm plus a few clear data points that illustrated the opening is real.

Go fill a gap.

Note: When I am not unraveling marketing mysteries in my blog, I love to have food conversations with my younger daughter Fanny or Yoga conversations with my older daughter Sarah. If you are a foodie, you might enjoy reading FanFare or if you are interested in Yoga, read about  summer teen yoga classes Sarah is teaching in Hawaii.  

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