GoPro is a great example of how a small company, devoting themselves to product development, can outperform bigger players in the market by competing on different terms.
GoPro is the world’s leading activity image capture company. The company’s reason for being is “to make it easy for people to capture their lives most exciting moments” as the founder, Nick Woodman puts it himself. After a surf trip in 2002 he started to develop a camera which let amateurs capture themselves with the same angles and quality that professional photographers were able to; hence the name GoPro. The first version of a GoPro camera was launched in 2004, and since then a lot has happened. At the moment, the product is the highest selling wearable HD camera in the world, and my question is: “how could a small company become the market leader when there was already existing cameras produced by technologically resourceful companies?”
3 Lessons learned from GoPro’s success:
1. GoPro had an understanding what their target group wanted, and delivered it. By having a market- instead of a product-focused approach, GoPro out-competed the present companies which focused on being as technologically advance as possible. This is a classical evolution which also has been seen in the mobile phone/mp3 player industry. The existing companies compete on the same terms almost as if in a technology race. Then, a new company understands that it is not about having the most advanced product, but having the mix of features which the customer values at a satisfactory level, and at a reasonable price. GoPro listened to their target group and provided them with an affordable solution that focused solely on their needs; Footage quality, ease of use, robustness, and mounting systems.
2. The mass market is sometimes too broad of an approach. This is particularly true for new product categories, where the product needs to be established. When GoPro entered the market, the present companies sold their product to an unspecified target group. GoPro on the other hand targeted passionate performers of various sport genres, which they understood were usually more willing to adapt to new technology within capturing. As the company itself understood the target group, they could more easily understand their preferences. By targeting a more concentrated group of consumers, it is easier to specifically address their needs and satisfy them.
3. GoPro had certain closeness to their lead users. This is the consumers that will try the product first, and talk about it to others. So by keeping the lead users close you can impact the image and fix any mistakes at an early stage. This is also a great source for feedback and ideas for further product development. GoPro identified their lead users and completely devoted themselves to them, allowing them to spread the word. The company took advantage of this marketing approach and sponsored events and top performers with cameras so they could film, share and spread. As their lead users often consisted of opinion leaders within their genre of sport, they then again influenced others and the word spread fast. Moreover, by being close to the extreme sport performers, they were seen as a true brand to the category and the natural choice. As they claim: “created by Sports addicts for Sports addicts”.
If you are interested in the company, I suggest you go to their website and learn more about how they developed their business from having the main office in a bus wagon to selling cameras worldwide.
– Eivind Wilhelm Otnes