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Trade Routes: Where What Isn’t Will be Found

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: August 29, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 3 of 5

Competitive advantages are transient at best. Nowadays, the competition catches up and jumps ahead very quickly. Small improvements can’t hold onto their advantage for long. Keep looking for the next big thing.

Well, if benchmarking and incremental improvements are not enough, what is?

The Future: Find What Isn’t

Exploring the new frontiers of your market is not easy, but today’s markets offer no alternative. To survive, companies must constantly patrol the world for new markets, ideas, concepts, products and services. “That’s fine,” you may say, “but our competitors are almost certainly looking in all the same places.”

Yes, they are, but there’s one place where they are not looking, and, in fact, it’s wide open. Where is that place? The future … The future is the place where what isn’t will be found. You and your competitors are doing a good job of taking care of customers’ present needs, but what about their future needs?

A look at the evolution of cosmetics throughout the past 50 years should give us some hints of future changes. For example, the number and variety of cosmetic products and services has grown exponentially. Yesteryear’s cosmetics were pretty basic: face powders, lipstick, rouge, eyebrow pencil and a few skin creams. Eventually, all suppliers ended up offering pretty much the same products. After a while though, subcategories within each of the main categories began to appear and grow in number.