What can a brand do to differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace such as the sports accessory space. Would it be the brand story and brand attributes that are the winning ingredients to win in this hyper competitive market or would it have to be innovation.
The sports space is certainly crowded, but the size of the market creates plenty of opportunity. This is not a zero sum game.
The key to differentiation in a crowded space, is focusing on what it is that makes your product/brand unique? Do you have a story that is compelling? Has your product increased strength by X%, or saved lives, or fill a specific need within an interesting space.
Some great new products to review, that have entered into the space recently would be:
What you'll see, is that they have crafted their brand message to get to the core of the user experience. Find your story - one that resonates with your target users. Then tell it loudly!
+1 Laura. Storytelling is key.
Keep in mind that a good story needs to be tailored to your audience, so understanding who you're selling to is really important. I find archetypes, or storytelling patterns, super helpful, too.
You also need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. You can't afford to be generic. Authors use a process called 'character profiling' to develop robust voices, and this technique works really well for developing your brand's voice as well.
I recently gave a presentation about these two techniques. Here are the slides if you want to learn more: http://www.slideshare.net/mobile/bijou628/engineering-effective-communications
If you have any questions, here's my link for a free call. I'd be happy to chat with you. https://clarity.fm/andreagoulet/howdy
This is certainly a tough category. Understanding that your story must be compelling, innovation should tie into it.
Why did you develop the product? What was your need? Where did you see the gap in the marketplace? How did you do this? And on and on....
The upside of this market is that although crowded, there is an audience for a story that resonates, touching the heart and body of your target market. Getting them this information in the way they want to hear it will be key to success.
Question: are you focusing on online sales or in-store? All of this will need to be addressed as the story is developed.
As a sports agent and sports business strategist, I understand the concerns and questions you have. I would advise that you first need identify local teams in your market. Then the next task would be to answer the question of how can I pitch my product to a team or athlete? Once have found a team or athlete, let that team or athlete sample the product over a period for free. Please ensure you are able to explain what your product does for the athlete or team in laymen's terms. Don't make the pitch to the team or the athlete anymore stressful than it has to be. Their experience with the product tells a story in itself. Keep in mind Training Mask (https://www.trainingmask.com/) was an unknown product until people started asking what is that mask Marshawn Lynch is wearing on his face during his warm-ups. Under Armor used their network as former students at the University of Maryland to promote and popularize their original product.This maybe an easier task in a smaller market where there are not 4 or 5 professional teams. Teams in markets with only the NBA or MLB or let's say MLS are more likely to have a closer connection to the community, than let's New York, LA, or Chicago where there are 4 or 5 major sport Professional Teams and everyone is trying to get access to those guys. If you are in a large market I would look at MLS teams and their affiliates or MLB teams and their Minor league affiliates. If your product is more basketball or football centric don't be afraid to look at options abroad in Europe to pitch your product. The athlete will tell other athletes about the product. You have a basic narrative on #1 Why your product is innovative and worth the consumers time and money. #2 As I stated earlier the athlete or the team tells your brand story for you. #3 The athletes who utilize the product can also help improve or streamline your product before you go to the consumer with it, through their experience with your product.
Feel free to contact me, I would love to hear more about your product.