Pick (Only) One

You cannot be everthing to everyone.  You must choose your market.   

A mediocre mix of so-so quality and modest convenience leads to stagnation in the Mushy Middle.

It’s basic premise is that people view their buying decisions in two very different ways.  On one side is the “High Fidelity” experience that involves high levels of desire, prestige and personal identity.  These premium experiences are worth paying extra for and enduring significant inconvenience.  Fidelity experiences help define who we are. 

We pick and choose our “High Fidelity” experiences.  The rest of our purchases are measured against a different standard.   We look for lower cost, simple use, and easy purchase.   “High Convenience” products don’t have to be special … just good enough.   

The key strategic insight is that these are mutually exclusive strategies.   In a person’s mind you cannot be both special and common.   Successful ideas push a product toward superior performance in either Fidelity or Convenience.  

Of course not everyone makes the same choices.  One person may be willing to spend thousands on a home sound system while another is content with $15 ear buds.  As a result, it is quite possible for a market to have both “High Fidelity” and “High Convenience” winners.

The danger area is the middle ground.  While it may seem like a good idea to add quality to a convenient product or make a premium product more convenient, this seldom works.  Being in the “Mushy Middle” fails to appeal strongly to either buying priority.  Products and services in this area (think old line department stores) are bludgeoned from above by premium providers (think boutiques) and from below by cheap convenient options (think Walmart)    


Pursue ideas that create either exceptional value or exceptional convenience.

A Good Read

Multiple authors make this point.   My favorite is “Trade Off – Why some things catch on, and other don’t” by Kevin Maney.   Xxxx in “Treasure Hunt” demands respect for the convenience access with many examples from the retail space.   Advocating for the premium retail experience is xxxx in xxxx.

Brainstorming Questions:

  1. What does my product/service compete on … “high fidelity” or “high convenience”?
  2. Does my new idea contribute to exceptional “high fidelity” or “high convenience”?
  3. Who is the target for either the fidelity or convenience?  What circumstances drive their experience?
  4. Are all the projects in this area pulling in the same direction … “high fidelity” or “high convenience”?
  5. Who is the best “high fidelity” player in this area?  Best “convenience” player?  Can we beat them?
  6. Can I create a new market niche where I can own the “high fidelity” position? 

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