Asymmetric Motivation & Startups

People need shoes. There is a grand market for shoes. Zappos has proven it. Big Shoes dubbed "Store Sko" in Norwegian, a small shop in my neighborhood that sells (guess what) big shoes, has proven it. The shop has been running profitable for years. Big Shoes is master of segmentation marketing.

Asymmetric motivation

Big Shoes has a positioning advantage - competitors, incumbents and mainstream shoe shops are reluctant to pursue the market of abnormal shoe sizes. First, the market is not perceived large and hence lucrative enough compared to mainstream markets. Second, customized shoes require customized inventory and production lines.

Niche marketing

When a mainstream shop cannot provide for the customer that shoe size s/he is looking for, they refer to Big Shoes, a sales person told be. Big Shoes receives referrals from competitors because they are in fact not yet competitors - they target different segments. Rather, for the mainstream shop, it is a matter of customer service.

Since Big Shoes is about the only big-shoes-specialist in Norway, customers come back. As customer retention is high, Big Shoes builds a stronger relationship to its customers who again share the news with new customers.

Solving problems

People with extra-large feet do not mainly need a spectacular design or shock-absorbing functions with their shoes. They need shoes that fit. Big Shoes excel at solving that problem for this particular segment. The shop has even started providing shoes that competes with regular shoes on design.

By solving a real customer need, Big Shoes are able to provide great customer service, keep clear of competition, and accordingly charge extra. The shop has added mail order as distributions channel and expanded into additional XXL product ranges. Big Shoes makes a sustainable business of asymmetric motivation.

Update: Thanks to Paul's comments I have changed the title and done some changes in this post; this is not a case of Jobs-to-be-done marketing. Rather it makes an example of asymmetric motivation, one facet of disruptive innovation.

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