The Importance of Being First
By George Anderson
Marketing pros don’t like emphasizing it because they think it downplays the importance of the marketing function, but being the first one out with a product in a category can
be the most important element in determining success, writes Al Ries in his column on AdAge.com.
Mr. Ries points to companies and brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Nescafe as evidence of the value of being first in a category.
When he says first, however, Mr. Ries says he’s not talking so much about being first in the marketplace as being the first in the minds of consumers. That, he writes, “is the
essence of creating a brand.”
Getting into the minds of consumers first is something Apple Computer did with its iPod but Creative Technology Ltd. did not do with its Creative Nomad Jukebox.
Even though Creative Technology was first to market, it made a number of mistakes, including a too long and too generic sounding brand name as well as failing to identify that
its new Jukebox was something entirely different (a disk drive player) from its other MP3 players.
Apple avoided these same mistakes and, today, is the unrivaled leader in the category.
Moderator’s Comment: How important is being first to market with a product or retailing concept? What are the keys to being “first in the minds of consumers?”
George Anderson – Moderator