Responding to market trends is a necessity for most businesses. Consumers are the market and therefore are the ones generally viewed as responsible for creating it. Unless profit, or staying in business at all, is not a requirement, companies pay attention to the needs and wants of their customers. Consider then, what limited control that provides a business to determine its destiny.
A leader must define the role of their organization within the whole of the world.
There’s nothing Blockbuster could have done to keep people renting VHS and DVD movies. Perhaps though, there was something they could have done to keep consumers looking to them as the source for movies and entertainment – whatever the medium.
Leading the market means knowing where your customers are headed – showing them what’s possible and providing them opportunities before they knew what could be.
Steve Jobs openly disliked consumer focus groups because consumers can only ask for what they can imagine is possible. He famously quipped, “Consumers don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Leading the market means inventing solutions for your customers. It means taking them beyond their imagination to solve unspoken problems and introduce unrecognized opportunities to live better lives.
Consumers follow companies that lead the market. And companies that lead the market operate from a position of strength. Not bully strength, but respected strength.
Market followers expend significant effort playing catch-up – chasing the prevailing winds of a consumer demand over which they have no influence. It’s assumed that being a market leader is harder than being a follower, but market leaders don’t expend resources to play catch-up. Perhaps, market leadership is a choice of where resources are focused.