George Pitcher (MW last week) makes some interesting points about exploiting neglected markets, but as even he admits, his chosen example undermines his case somewhat. Topical it may be, but the Independent Insurance story is surely a cautionary tale: there are reasons why some markets are neglected and those who rediscover them must take care or they will find themselves having to cut corners or retreat, bruised and wiser.
Pitcher’s other examples, Pret A Manger and easyJet, are somewhat disingenuous. The former moved not so much into a neglected market as a fragmented one. There was always a market for sandwiches and coffee, but previously the demand was met by Boots, Marks & Spencer, small independent shops and office vending machines. Pret merely raised the market’s profile and made itself synonymous with sandwiches. EasyJet is more interesting, in that it did go against received wisdom. But would the budget airlines have done half as well if they hadn’t exploited call-centre and Internet technology to keep costs down? Methinks not. Perhaps George’s wind is affecting his concentration?