Just pick any generic product around you and think if you can transform it into a differentiated big business. If you can do that, then you must have a genuine innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.
I would suggest to use the Saudi Thobe as an example (I hope you know what a Saudi thobe is, if not, check out this Wikipedia page. And yes, it is on Wikipedia!!). This product has been around for hundreds of years now. Although the fabrics and final touches have evolved a bit throughout these years, the general design, style and color almost kept unchanged. Now making a big, new and profitable business out of such a product is a real challenge.
Loai Nassem and his wife Mona Al Haddad did just that, they chose to be different in a saturated market, in a market that kept its status quo for hundreds of years.
The story of their initiative can be found here, but I would like to shed some light on the interesting marketing tactics they used to build their business:
– Setting the imagination: One of the interesting quotes said by Mr. Loai, the founder of Lomar, that I particularly like is ‘I wanted this business to start big.’ It is obvious that he had imagined the business before its start. Such perspective enabled him to set a reliable track for his business and brand. One of the most common problems of entrepreneurs is to have the idea and … that’s it!! Picturing the idea, the way it will be realized and how it will be recieved by people are all major factors determining the success of any entrepreneurial project. Once the picture is clear, the project business plan will be based on a solid ground; it will be more focused and will lead to more reliable results.
– Careful Targeting: The well known golden rule in marketing is: you cannot sell to everybody. Lomar thobes is using this rule effectively. They wanted their brand to be associated with a specific group of people. People who are daring to change, and yet have the money to do it! That’s why Lomar thobes is charging a premium price in exchange for its products. Their prices are greater than the rest of the market by around 40%. Their boutiques are located in premium locations and their internal designs are unique and modren.
– Emphasizing the brand: They are using their brand name on buttons, zipper sliders, or even somewhere on the thobe itself. This is certainly a unique approach in the thobes market. Usually seeing the brand name will start conversations about Lomar designs, colors and fabrics. In other words, by using this approach they are encouraging word of mouth marketing.
However, Lomar thobes are dealing with considerable challenges; such as:
– Cultural Difficulties: Although recording a remarkable success among young customers (those between 25 up to 35 years old), Lomar is still facing some cultural acceptance issues. Surviving all these years with minimal changes, Lomar approach is seen as a threat to local costume traditions. These difficulties can be sensed when comparing the popularity of Lomar designs amongst the Kingdom’s regions. Its success is still concentrated in Jeddah although are some moves to make it more acceptable elsewhere.
– Typicality and Competition: Lomar made a surprise, a wave of shock if you want to call it, to the status quo in thobes designs. This was definitely a part of its success. However, people will soon start to wonder, what else? What is new? Especially when realizing that their first-player-in-the-market-position will last no longer, new entrants already started to position themselves in the market!
Finally, such initiatives should always to endorsed and given the chance to grow and prosper. And for young entrepreneurs, it is important to see peers from their own culture, their own environment who can face the challenges and come out with successful business examples. Modern economies are now built on such entrepreneurial spirits, on small businesses generating jobs and adding to GDP.
I think it is time to conclude now by stating that I do not know the owners of Lomar Thobes, or any one working there for that matter.