Create the Marketplace – Own the Marketplace

People want something unique and different, so don’t compete—create your own.

In a nutshell that’s the motto CEO and business founder Jeff Pedersen lives by, and what enabled him to start, and continue running, his successful business, Cariloha.

Jeff Pedersen, CEO/Founder Cariloha

Many of today’s current marketplaces are saturated. So if you don’t have the time and/or money to compete with well-known and well-funded brands, find a niche where you can create your own marketplace.

Pedersen recalls first starting his company in 2007 where they produced and sold island-leisure products. Unfortunately, sales were not anywhere close to what he and his executive team had projected they’d be at after opening their first three stores.

Why? Because no one knew their brand and they were selling products that other already established companies were selling, using the same materials and selling in the same price range.

Pedersen actually watched a customer walk into his Cozumel store, pick up a watch, set it down, go outside, make a call, come back inside, pick up the same watch, look it over again, set it back down and leave his store. Curiosity got the best of him, and so he went and asked this customer why she didn’t buy the watch. She told him because she’d never heard of the brand Cariloha before, and if she was going to spend that kind of money on a watch, she wanted to go with a brand she knew and trusted, Fossil, that was selling the same type of watch for about the same price.

After that conversation, Pedersen had a decision to make. He could compete head-to-head and spend a lot of time and money on branding or he could do a blue ocean strategy. Without taking much time, Pedersen decided his brand wasn’t going to compete in the marketplace; they were going to create their own. If they didn’t take this step in a new direction, Cariloha would always be fighting; fighting margins, pricing and competition.

So he deviated from the norm of using cotton, and began producing and selling products made from bamboo. Although his suppliers told him this would be more expensive to make, he was amazed by its soft, luxurious feel and knew this was the something unique and sustainable consumers wanted—and boy was it.

In the first two weeks of having bamboo shirts in his three stores, every shirt sold out, and in just the first year of selling bamboo-only products, they saw a 600% increase in sales.

Pedersen isn’t the only CEO and company founder who found an untapped marketplace that was ripe for business growth, and he won’t be the last.

When you take the business risk of creating your own blue ocean strategy, if you choose to create your own unique marketplace that fulfills consumers’ unique needs, then you’ll own the marketplace, the customers, the money and the success. But if you follow the norm, you’ll spend a lifetime fighting and competing with big-name brands.


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