Identifying Your Product’s Category – What Shelf Does It Go To?

Kingfisher recently launched Radler in Gujarat. It’s an aerated beverage, similar to Sprite or Mountain Dew. They promote it as 0% Alcoholic Drink. There are atleast 5 more “0% Alcoholic Beer” drinks sold in Gujarat. Branding the product closer to beer allows it to differentiate it from “soft drinks” and also keep a premium pricing.

In software products when you are making a category defining product for your market you have to choose your “tags” well. Is Slack replacing team emails or improving chat? Is Airtable a smarter Excel or a faster built custom app.

At my last startup, FindYogi, I liked to call it a “shopping decision platform”. I would always need 3-4 more sentences to explain what we do. Had I called it a “price comparison site” it would have been easier for people to understand in the first go. It would hurt the team’s ego that we were building in a crowded domain and not building anything fancy but that would be a separate problem to solve.

These “tags” are different for employees, partners and investors. This is your quick pitch and the goal is to let the audience put you in a “bucket” or “shelf” they already know.  

  1. Keep it simple and generic. Even if it defines only half of what you do. A “price comparison site and we also help you decide which product to buy” is a better pitch than starting with complicated phrases.
  2. Let the audience link it to a popular product that they might already know. Let them come up with that bucket in their head and don’t get offended with whatever they call you. If it’s a 50% match, it’s a win.
  3. Let it evolve with time. Product and market maturity will give you new tags. Embrace it.

At my new startup, Refrens, I am currently pitching to potential users as “JustDial +Linkedin for B2B service providers”. It doesn’t sound fancy but gets me a foot in the door. This is how a user defined it. I am going to stick with this for some time before I find a better pitch.

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