Time Bomb Blast (Series 2) : Finding the right combination of wires.

[The first post, Time Bomb Blast (Series 1), was for understanding the importance of creating category. Today, I would like to further extend the discussion: "Finding your right category" to develop a Time Bomb brand.]

Time Bomb requires right combination of wires.Otherwise, it will blow away YOU rather than your competitors.

Finding the right combination of wires is finding the right category.It’s tricky. It’s sensitive.

If you can’t find the right category, you can’t find the right combination of strategy and execution.

Finding your category to get exploded has one prerequisite:
You should not be color blind. You should good at recognizing colors, recognizing good ideas. This ability is rare in the marketplace. Test: Can you see the orange color wire in the following image?

….No orange color? Then you need to keep reading. (I know you’re not color blind. Actually, there is no orange color wire) Yet you need to find the right category, for that sake, keep reading.

Generally, there are always five kind of categories:

1.Faddy category
2.Trendy category
3.Progressively category
4.Secondary category
5.Unknowingly category

Today, I’ll try to help you acquiring the skill to recognize good ideas while helping you finding your right category. (Every example here might not be exactly for Time Bomb brand but it’s good for understanding and finding your category.)Finding your right category:

1. Faddy Category:If you have the faddy one, make sure you move fast enough before this category get plummeted. Spread the brand fast enough so that you can at least achieve the break-even.

In the long run, the world doesn’t need you. You would be found gathering dust in dresser drawer like the Swiss Army Knife and the laser pen.
Brands are developed for the long run. Companies made their fortune out of them. Countries thrive due to them. Still, if you think, you can do it, you can save the dying category because you believe in yourself, because you’re competent enough, anything is possible if you just try harder, then read my recent post: “Can NOT do Attitude: How to Become Successful in a Shorter Time.”

How to recognize faddy category?

When your brand’s category is dying, means your category and brand both are getting faddy. There may be many reasons to recognize this situation e.g. breakthrough (email) put other category (facsimile) on the ropes.
But I would like to talk about one of the worst feature of faddy category: Convergence.

Mostly, the converged product is faddy. Because they can’t find the right combination of wires. They’re color blind. There category prematurely explode because of short circuit.

They all are usually hypes. Remember the hype of Hall flying car? Remember the hype of radio that will print your daily newspaper?

Kamil’s BONUS 1:
Converged products are just good to remember. Good at capturing imagination. Good at generating talk value and short term sales. What they’re not good at is creating successful category (and brand).

Let’s try it again. Remember the last time when you screw something with your cool Swiss Army Knife? …….. Me neither.
You know why?
Because convergence is almost never comfortable, and that’s one major reason
that moves your product to faddy category.
You still want to use your big screen TV to watch movies, even bigger screen in cinema, and of course with heavier sound system. Convergence wants you to watch everything on your all-in-one mobile device. You want to use specialized product for almost everything. You just hire services of convergence when there is no other choice. And we have plethora of choices.
There’s only one exception to convergence:  Convenience.
You use camera of your mobile phone because of its convenience. You make movie with it because of its convenience. It’s convenient to grab your cell phone from your pocket frequently, one click and you’re done. Even though, you use special camcorder and digital camera in your occasions. Still the major camera brand is not Nokia, it’s Cybershot.
2. Trendy Category:
If you have the trendy one, you are blessed. When the trends getting started, astute companies’ management never miss the opportunity. They get into and come out with the Time Bomb brand. Their brand grows when the category and the market grow.
The good news for trendy products: It gives birth to new opportunities. So with the passage of time, companies utilize these new opportunities to create new categories using their marketing efforts.
For example: Mainframes brought computer (a trendy category) and IBM was born. The new companies Apple IIe, Commodore Pet and Radio Shack TRS-80 jumped at the opportunity to create the new category, Personal Computers (PC).
The foundation build by IBM, brought up the chain of computer categories and successful brands. Now we have: Mini computers, midrange computers, hand held computers, network computers, laptop computers, netbook computers, tablet computers almost all dominated by big brands. Not to forget that how computer created endless opportunities for software industry.

We have major brands in almost all category created by above mentioned trendy category.

Trendy category generally comparatively move faster: It creates big brands for you faster. Grow you rich faster. Makes you a market leader faster. Makes many followers of yours faster.
Think what trendy category, operating system, computer and online book store did faster for Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Jeff Bezos. They all found the right combination of wires.
Kamil’s BONUS 2: You can capture the most important attribute. If you’re smart enough, you can create a trendy new category with a new (and separate) brand name to block the competitors.
3. Progressively Category:
This category is in tough competition. In the long run, usually, it is dominated by two brands. For example: Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola are neck and neck. Duracell and Everyday. Intel and AMD. All others (other than giants two) have to find a profitable niche to develop Time Bomb.
Just for understanding, in the long run, generally in term for market share:
No.1 brand has the highest market share = 60%
No.2 is little behind = 55%
No.3 is far behind = 5%
55% and then suddenly 5%? Big gap? Yeah! That’s why No.3 needs to find a profitable niche. If it can’t they are forgettable. Think where’s Royal Cola these days?
When market and category is under developed, customers are unsophisticated. It makes good sales for No.3 or No.4 brands. These customers don’t know exactly which one is or will be a leader brand. So they buy which one looks attractive e.g. in packaging.
But customers never remain unsophisticated, when market grows and they know about leader brands. Generally, they want to go with them with the assumption that leader brands have the best quality, they know more about this category and of course, everyone is using the leader brands.
The successful brands in this category launch new brands to block new entrants and create new category by being first, gain market share and leadership, and move back themselves to trendy category.
See how Gillette has been doing it through cannibalization. They moved from single blade razor to double to triple to quadruple. Each with separate brand. I think Gillette’s single blade razor brand no longer exists. Gillette is continuously moving back to trendy category through cannibalization strategy.
Watch TV category, for example. It was trendy a long time ago. Still we have some major 2 or 3 brands having major market share. Now, how to make TV is easily available, you can even make CRT TV at home.
Kamil’s BONUS 3: The impressive thing is that giant brand like Sony is moving itself back to trendy category by continuously innovating, diverging, and
introducing new category.
First we had CRT TV, then plasma TV and then we have LCD TV, LED TV, rear-projection LCD TV, rear-projection LCOS TV, DLP TV, and more to come. (Did you notice? Trendy category at work again!)
If you are No.1 or No.2 you’re having fun. If not, you’re in trouble and want to work on your marketing seriously.
New entrants and No.3 (or below No.3) face brutal competition. Sometimes getting in to this category is easy as it’s easy to benchmark the leader brand. The difficult part is to differentiate, earn and survive. If you have superb marketing expertise you can outflank the competition to make a Time Bomb brand. For that, you have to borrow Secondary Category’s strategies. Learn how secondary one find the right combination.
4. Secondary Category:
Alas, if you have this one, you’re not blessed, as you’re late.
Hye! Don’t get discouraged. If you’re clever enough; you will know how to make yourself blessed. (This will also work for Progressively Category)
Good News: Brands fall in this category create a new category then put their brand name on it through dominating a niche.
Kamil’s BONUS 4: When marketer watches trendy brands dominating the market category (and the major attributes have already been captured) he simply thinks “So what? I’ll create my own category. I’ll do the opposite”
When Michael Dell saw PC trend, he would have thought while lying on the bed at his dorm room:
“So what? I’ll create my own category. They sell through retailer, I’ll sell direct!” He found the right combination of wire in his head.
Michael Dell  made a Time Bomb in a dorm room by finding his niche.
Dell never compete IBM, head-on. It realized that the most important attributes have been captured by other competitors. It never tried to eat the whole pie. On the other hand, Dell made a billion dollar company by eating a chunk of a pie.
5. Unknowingly category:
If you fall in the fifth category, means, you make breakthroughs. Sometimes you never know that you are surviving in this category until you create it or in the process of creating it.

Why don’t you know?

Because there is zero demand. That’s how you realize that you’re surviving in Unknowingly Category.
Sometimes you know, but not sure, weather you’ll transfer to trendy category or not. You start from an unknowingly category, with the passage of time the world changes, opportunity emerges and makes you a trendy category. If you’re an astute marketer, you’ll make yourself a market leader through your brilliant strategy. If don’t, it’s your own (intentional) mistake!
Getting to the first point: Because there is zero demand. If you see only world’s top 10 valuable brands, you’ll find that they’re NOT valuable because they asked consumer “I want to create this product, would you buy it?” They’re valuable because they never asked. Market was zero. And they created the market.
Kamil’s BONUS 5: There is always need in the market you just have to recognize it. Consumers can’t tell you what they will do until they experience your product.
McDonald’s market was zero. McDonald’s never asked what consumer will do. It was a first fast food hamburger chain. And among world’s top valuable brands. Interbrand ranks it # 6
Kamil’s BONUS 6: If consumers knew about their needs, wants and what they will do, they were marketers too. That’s why the God has sent you! 🙂
Then what about the market research?
Before creating a Time Bomb, borrow the Time Machine from Marty Mcfly of Back To The Future and go to past to know what (actually) was happened? Well, If you can’t borrow the Time Machine, like me, read case studies.

Market research should be conducted to know:
a. What consumers have done?

b. Why consumers did that?

c. Why consumers chose that brand?
Predicting the future is not the way to build a category. On the contrary, it’s a way to destroy the new category that can change the world.

For example: Before Red Bull was introduced, the product was tested with potential customers who hated the name, the package and the taste. People can’t tell you about the right combination.

People don’t know what they will do until they are actually given a choice. People only know what they have done.That’s why we use marketing research to ask questions about the past, but never questions about the future.

Red Bull is exactly a Time Bomb brand.

Related post: Time Bomb Blast (Series 1)

P.S.: We have finalized the category stage of creating Time Bomb brand. Now we can move to the next step. Stay tune.



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  • Saira

    Got it! Thanks man 🙂

  • mudasir

    amazing points. you have given a totally new direction to me the time bomb series like an MBA course me. im trying to apply it as i read every series

  • Muneeb Umar

    NO ONE CAN UNDERSTAND MARKETING AND MAKE OTHER PEOPLE UNDERSTAND the way you do it. i dont remember studying cannibilization strategy like you explained it

  • Kamil Ali

    My pleasure:)

  • Kamil Ali

    Thanks Muneeb:)

    Cannibalization is the most important strategy for leader brands.

  • Kamil Ali

    Here's tip I just received from Mudasir. He just paid me back.
    Apply the Time Bomb idea on yourself. And see how it helps, changes your life.

    Please find someone you care about, forward them the Time Bomb idea and insist they READ it. I would consider that a gift and pay back to my efforts.

    In fact, don't just do it with this idea. Do it with all ideas that have helped you and changed you!

    All the best,

  • Saira

    Okay 🙂

  • sameera

    Hello.I have been reading ur blog since many days but never thought to comment.Today i read both series of time bomb.ur blog is much informative!!

  • Kamil Ali

    Sameera thanks for the kind words for my series!

    Good to see you on board. Really. I mean it!
    I love everyone’s comment because I love and a huge fan of robust dialogues.
    Robust dialogues brings change, inventions and innovations.

    Waiting for more comments of yours!

  • Sameera

    Inshallah i will be commenting further……

  • Armaghan Saqib

    Hi Kamil, thanks for a wonderful article.

    Finding/discovering category seems like a chicken-egg problem. Which should come first? A category or a product?

    Thinking bit more, may be I can launch a product with any category and then adjust its category on the go based upon the response?

    Best regards

  • Kamil Ali


  • Saira

    Yes! I agree. But even sharing should not be overdosed or it makes people run away…

  • Saira

    Nice explanantion Professor! 🙂

    This is place where one not only learns by reading article, but from comments also.

    Thumbs up!

  • Muneeb Umar

    May be the professor is a right word for kamil
    U r an amazing guy I can CHALLENGE No teacher in Pakistan teaches category concept n importance like kamil is teaching here
    Yes i said CHALLENGE!!!!

  • Saira

    O 🙂

    Kamil! Now I think you should officially step into this profession!

  • Kamil Ali

    Don't worry If I don't (or other don't let me) step in.
    I'm doing my job through this blog.

    The mission is getting accomplished everyday.

    Credit goes to my audience.

  • Saira

    Thank you for this contribution Kamil Bhai but keep trying! As you would be able to capture a "large chunk of target audience" that way…

    May Allah bless you with success in every trial. Ameen