When entering a new market, it is crucial to choose the right timing and the right product. This choice will define whether you are a pioneer or a follower. It is a strategic decision and both strategies have their advantages and disadvantages.
Aiming to be ‘the first to market’ can be a powerful but also risky strategy. Being a pioneer can boost your brand and reputation in a new market and enable you to capture market share quickly. Your challenge is to educate customers, create demand for something new, and convince potential partners that the product will succeed. Be aware that followers can benefit from your efforts and that companies with more resources and market power can ride the wave you created, making you lose your first mover’s advantage in a blink of an eye.
It can be a wise decision to wait and see how a pioneer is doing. You can observe the reaction of customers to the new offering, learn from (the mistakes) from the pioneer and let him pave the road for you. Entering a new market, being the “new kid on the block”, you run the risk that local customers have become loyal to the pioneer’s brand. Your challenge is to convince customers to switch to you, create a strong positioning, and bring unique value.
Choosing to be a pioneer or a follower is not easy as both strategies can have success. Whatever you decide, you need to be flexible and responsive and be ready to react to moves from your competition.