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Why All Category Kings Build For A Small, Weird Bunch Of People
Your Superconsumers can help point to breakthrough ideas hiding in plain sight.
Dear Friend, Subscriber, and Category Pirate,
This week’s Buried Treasure is about a weird bunch of people—Superconsumers.
Supers are the consumers pushing the category forward. They are receptive to the new. They are looking for “different.” And if you can get even 1% of the Supers in the top 10% of consumers in the category connected to your new and different future, you’ll become the Category King.
Your Supers will tell other Supers. And so on, and so on…
Here’s why, in the discipline of category design, weird is good.
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The Power Of Superconsumers
The biggest benefit of Superconsumers comes down to simple math.
Pound for pound, Supers generate the most power in a category. They’re the first to spot breakthrough products and business model innovations—and are quick to point out their frustrations with current category offerings. In fact, Supers leave so many digital breadcrumbs, that if you see anyone commenting extensively about a category on social media, an online review, or a Reddit forum, it’s 99% likely they are a Superconsumer.
We all have friends who are Supers:
The winos who arrive for a casual night of drinks with seven different types of wine glasses
The self-help readers who own every book in the genre
The sound engineers who collect studio amps and vintage microphones
The music fans who like to brag about how they were listening to rock band Greta Van Fleet before they won a Grammy
Although Supers are few in number—usually about 10% of consumers for a particular product or category (not 10% of your customers)—they can drive between 30% and 70% of sales, an even greater share of category profit, and 100% of the insights.
And yet, when it comes to building companies, launching products, and creating new categories, Supers are almost always a forgotten piece of the puzzle.
Don’t Build For Every Consumer, Build For Your Superconsumer
If you want to make sure you are innovating in the right direction, go talk to your Supers.
It’s the quickest way to find clarity—and understand why the smartest decision you’ll ever make as an entrepreneur, marketer, investor, or creator is building for THEM.
Why? Because Superconsumers are:
Emotional buyers who base their purchase decisions on their life aspirations. The products they buy represent their love and identity attachment to the category.
NOT price-sensitive. They have emotional and aspirational connections to the products they love, and are usually willing to spend more overall AND pay a higher average price per unit.
More predictable than other consumers. The root cause of their behaviors is deep emotions and motivations, rather than socio-economics or demographics.
Willing to offer wisdom and new insights about product potential within the category. They are the ones most intimately familiar with all the current product options out there.
Most likely to introduce potential Supers to your new category of product. Potential Supers represent 20% of a category’s consumer base and respond well to the same advertising, marketing, and product innovations that Supers do.
Instead of asking all of your customers what they think of your product or service (resulting in a mixed bag of contradictory feedback), focus on building relationships with the 10% who live and breathe your category of product (not just the top 10% of your customers).
Now, grab yourself a rum and meet us in the hull of the ship.
We’ve got a pirate tale for you.
Southwest, the world’s largest low-cost carrier airline, was started by one of our favorite Pirates of all time—Herb Kelleher.
At first, his focus was narrow.
In 1967, Southwest started as an intrastate airline solely within the state of Texas. Planes would fly between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio—and that was it. They kept costs low by flying the Boeing 737, serving peanuts, and operating out of less-expensive secondary airports.
As a result, Southwest started turning a profit in 1972—and didn’t suffer a money-losing year until the pandemic hit in 2020.
How did Kelleher arrive at this breakthrough idea?
He found underserved, ignored Supers by looking in places other airlines failed to look.
Southwest Supers weren’t “airline supers” because, as we know, airline consumers in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s were a very different group of travelers. They had the means to fly across the country. They expected comfort in the sky.
But those weren’t the flyers Southwest focused on serving.
Instead, Southwest focused on giving people in Texas—who otherwise would have to drive four and a half hours from Dallas to San Antonio—the ability to get there in a quarter of the time for a fraction of the cost. Their Supers weren’t actually in the “airline” category. Their Supers were in the “road trip” category.
So Southwest was really in the “you are now free to move about the country” business.
Just listen to the Languaging they use in this commercial, “We want our customers to spend their time in the air, not on the ground.”
50 years later, Southwest Airlines remains the Category Queen of low-cost air travel.
That’s the power of Superconsumers.
Talking to your Supers will give you the clarity and insight needed to prosecute all three sides of The Magic Triangle. And your growth will skyrocket if you treat them as collaborators. All of this said, if you want to design a new and different category, you can’t expect Superconsumers to just give you the answer.
To find your Superconsumers, and learn how to use their insights to grow sales and margins, look to our mini-books How To Leverage Superconsumers For Growth & Category Creation and A Super Of 1 Is A Super Of 9.
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