Selling new products to your existing market is only one growth option.
Successful businesspeople spend a lot of time thinking about how they can increase profits. They’ll typically have hundreds of ideas about things they could do, including developing new products, opening up new markets and new channels, and launching new marketing campaigns.
In the same way, people within organizations often have many different ideas about how they want to progress their careers. Perhaps they want to develop new skills, move into new roles, and even work in new industries.
That’s great! But, if this describes you, which of these ideas should you choose? And why?
This is where you can use a strategic approach, such as the Ansoff Matrix, to start screening your options, so that you can narrow these down and choose the ones that best suit your situation.
The Ansoff Matrix was first published in the Harvard Business Review in 1957, and has given generations of marketers and business leaders a quick and simple way of thinking about growth.
Sometimes called the Product/Market Expansion Grid, the matrix (see Figure 1 below) shows four ways that businesses can grow, and helps people think about the risks associated with each option.
The Matrix essentially shows the risk that a particular strategy will expose you to, the idea being that each time you move into a new quadrant (horizontally or vertically) you increase risk.
Looking at it from a business perspective, the low risk option is to stay with your existing product in your existing market: you know the product works, and the market holds few surprises for you.
However, you expose yourself to a whole new level of risk by either moving into a new market with an existing product, or developing a new product for an existing market. The new market may turn out to have radically different needs and dynamics than you thought, and the new product may just not be commercially successful.
And by moving two quadrants and targeting a new market with a new product, you increase your risk to yet another level!
Looking at this idea from a personal perspective, just staying where you are is often a low risk option.
Switching to a new role in the same company or industry, or changing to a similar job in a new industry is a high-risk option. And switching to a new role in a new industry has an even higher level of risk!
This is shown in Figure 2, below.
Interpret this according to your circumstances. For example, an accountant may find it easy to switch from one industry to another. But a salesman doing this may lose contacts that would take years to rebuild.
Don't be too scared by risk – if you manage it correctly (for example, by researching carefully, making contingency plans, building appropriate skills, and suchlike), then it can be well worth taking quite large risks.
Use of the tool is straightforward:
Here, you’re targeting new markets, or new areas of the market. You’re trying to sell more of the same things to different people. Here you might:
This strategy is risky: There’s often little scope for using existing expertise or for achieving economies of scale, because you are trying to sell completely different products or services to different customers
The main advantage of diversification is that, should one business suffer from adverse circumstances, the other may not be affected.
|Market Penetration||Product Development|
With this approach, you’re trying to sell more of the same things to the same people. Here you might:
Here, you’re selling more things to the same people. Here you might:
Some marketers use a nine-box grid for a more sophisticated analysis. This adds "modified" products between existing and new ones (for example, a different flavor of your existing pasta sauce rather than launching a soup), and "expanded" markets between existing and new ones (for example, opening another store in a nearby town, rather than going into online sales).
This is useful as it shows the difference between product extension and true product development, and also between market expansion and venturing into genuinely new markets (see Figure 3). However, be careful of the three "options" in grey, as they involve trying to do two things at once without the one benefit of a true diversification strategy (escaping a downturn in one product market).
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