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Article Contributed by Kumar Venkatesiah

Launching a business in a saturated market can be an overwhelming experience. Depending on the industry you are in, you may have competitors that have high brand equity and those who have existed in the business for several decades. Establishing credibility and trustworthiness in a market overrun by such competitors is no easy task. But it can be done. Here are a few ways a startup entrepreneur can take on competitors with high reputation in a saturated market.

Carve a niche 

Why do customers go to Toys “R” Us stores when you can buy toys at a Walmart or Target store? The answer lies in the fact that Toys “R” Us has managed to carve a niche for itself in this category. A customer looking to buy toys would prefer a niche store over a generic one for two reasons – one, a specialized store is more likely to have a larger depth of products to pick and choose from, and two, positioning your business as a specialist in a category helps with a higher ‘top of the mind’ recall.

Entrepreneurs should look at carving a niche in their industry of choice. For instance, someone looking at launching an apparel business could focus on something really niche – like formal wear for women, or cotton shirts for men. This brings down the number of direct competitors quite significantly and helps you gain a foothold in the market that you may expand at a later stage when you have a loyal clientele.


Personalization of products is an industry that is often under-served in many product categories. If your industry does not yet have a popular provider of personalized products, it could probably be an opportunity for you to jump in. You could personalize anything from beer, cigar, t-shirts, water bottles to even placemats and candy labels.

Personalization may not suit all product categories though. In such cases, entrepreneurs could look at customization. Market leaders in most product categories sustain their leadership through economies of scale. This is only possible through the manufacture and distribution of high volumes of a limited number of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). With customization, entrepreneurs could serve business requirements that are not fulfilled by a ‘one size fits all’ product that market leaders offer. Such a strategy works through a ‘high margin, low volume’ that helps startup entrepreneurs quickly get a foothold in the market.

Create a unique experience 

Carving a niche or personalizing the product cannot always work across industries. In other segments, the most effective and sustainable way to gain market share in a saturated market is by creating an experience that existing providers do not offer. For instance, Uber penetrated the monopolistic taxi market by offering a pickup and drop service that traditional taxis could not offer. Smartphone maker OnePlus penetrated the Android phone market by providing high-end features to mid-range customers. Creating an experience that does not exist today is a fantastic way to penetrate the market and gain market share.

Listening to the customer helps entrepreneurs identify such differentiating factors in business. You could, for instance, check out the publicly accessible customer support forums and product message boards online to identify the common pain points that customers face with the current products in the market. Alternately, entrepreneurs could conduct targeted surveys of people in your demographic to understand what they like and do not like with the current offerings. These strategies help entrepreneurs identify factors that could help you differentiate and thus create a unique experience for the customer.

Starting a business is never easy and launching in an industry that is saturated is extremely tough. But if history is anything to go by, it has been done time and again and it is up to the persevering entrepreneur to devise a strategy that can help them penetrate the market and beat the competition in their industry.



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