June 27, 2013

In my small business seminars, I’m often asked “How do you find new markets?” My answer is to work “on your business” not just “in your business” so you can take the time to look around.

For example, visit any shopping mall and you can you tell that obesity is an issue. While retailers are happy to create clothes for the super-sized male, plus-size women have long been left to tent-like apparel from specialty retailers like Lane Bryant. But obesity isn’t going away.

According a story in the Wall St. Journal, Center for Disease Control in Atlanta research shows that the average American woman today is 5 foot 4, weighs 167 pounds, and has a 37-inch waist. That’s roughly a size 14. Yet most designer styles top out around size 12. That’s a big underserved market and the public is demanding a change. Abercrombie & Fitch is facing a petition to make plus sizes after 2006 CEO comments resurfaced stating that “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes].”

At Cornell University two apparel-design students found in their research that plus-size women hold 28% of apparel purchasing power in the U.S., while their spending accounts for only 17%.

 If you want to find new markets, just look around, then use research to confirm your observations. As I point out in my book, the first step to successful marketing is finding out what the public wants and needs. So, at your next staff meeting, asked everyone to bring in an idea for a new market for your product or service.

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