The drawbacks of category design

November 21, 2022
The drawbacks of category design

The benefits of category design are huge. But today you'll discover the drawbacks.

Before diving in there is somethng we would like to share with you.

It's something from our personal experience.

Category design is not for everyone. Beside the drawback you're about to discover there is one big important thing you need to know.

Category design is a long game.

If you're looking for quick solutions, category design is not for you.

But in our opinion there is no quick solution.

Building a brand is hard work, and these days it's increasingly difficult to stand out.

But more on that in later posts.

Let's dive in.

So, what are the drawbacks of category design in marketing?

Pressure to Lead

We’ve mentioned that usually the company that creates the category becomes its leader. However, that’s not set in stone.

Sometimes the innovators get left in the dust. If you have a ground-breaking idea, you can be sure that people will try and imitate it.

Just as Blockbuster was too slow to corner the mail-service and online movie rental market, many entrepreneurs have lost out because they didn’t follow up their initial category design idea with a solid strategy that kept them ahead of the competitors.

No Playbook

When you create new categories of products and services, you walk off the beaten path. In uncharted territory, you have no guide ropes, no rules and no mentors or success stories to keep you on course.

“Herein lies the challenge for any category creator: no pre-existing market exists. When you’re not trying to topple an established incumbent or enter a crowded and competitive market, a lot of what you have to go is based on assumptions you’ve made about the need for your product.”

For many marketers, this is exciting. However, others can flounder, making the mistake of applying traditional practices and standards to a new market that demands innovative thinking.

Too Risky

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said:
“As an entrepreneur, you have to feel like you can jump out of an airplane because you're confident that you'll catch a bird flying by.”

Sometimes, the bird doesn’t appear and innovators hit the ground hard.

When you’re trying to change how people think, sell a product they’ve never considered, and compete with established brands who already have a viable solution, the risk of failure is high.

Now that you know the basics of category design it's time to get you're hands dirty.

In the next post you'll discover how to start with category design.

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