Think about products that are game changers.  Certainly Apple and its list of product innovations would come easily to mind, but there are other more ordinary examples that create a new product category.

The latest example that struck me is Kuerig.  This simple appliance spawned a revolution of how hot beverages are packaged.  Our grocery store has half an aisle of K-cups (or their imitations) with the express purpose of providing individual servings on a Kuerig machine.

I think of other products that have generated as much in the ancillary sales as in the main item.  X-Box and the millions of revenue from related games.  wii and the accessories and programs that accompany the wii console.  BlueRay players and the demand it created for a whole new format of movies.  Disney movies and the related merchandising.  Premium cupcakes and the trays, racks, carriers, decorations and pans that evolved.

Almost a decade ago, the book Blue Ocean Strategy challenged readers to create “blue oceans” — new market niches that were different than the ‘red/blood oceans’ that came from direct competition.

The same principle applies to services as it does to products.  How can you position yourself like Kuerig and fulfill an unmet need rather than trying to be better/cheaper/faster than the next guy?

— beth triplett

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Harvard Business Review Press, 2005

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