Crafting Categories: Positioning for Visionaries Aiming for More Than Mere Market Share

Category Creation The Bold Startup Strategy for Market Dominance

Category creation: pioneering entire market spaces to define a new industry paradigm.

Aug 2023

"Category creation" is a fascinating strategic approach, especially in the context of startups and innovative companies.

Category Creation: Pioneering New Market Spaces

Category creation is a bold strategic move, wherein a company not only introduces a new product or service but pioneers an entirely new market category.

In doing so, they shape consumer perceptions and behaviors surrounding this new category.

What is Category Creation?

Category creation involves:

  1. Visionary Thinking: Recognizing a unique market need and addressing it in a way that hasn't been done before.
  2. Differentiation: Clearly delineating how this new category is distinct from existing solutions.
  3. Leadership: Aspiring to be the category leader, setting standards, and defining the narrative for the entire category.

Examples of Category Creation

  • Salesforce: With its "No Software" campaign, Salesforce didn't just promote cloud-based CRM; they shaped the entire SaaS (Software as a Service) space.

  • Airbnb: Instead of just providing accommodation, Airbnb created a new category around "shared economy" and "local travel experiences".

Challenges of Category Creation for Startups

  1. Resource Intensity: It demands extensive resources not just to launch a product but to shape and nurture an entire market category.
  2. Market Skepticism: Being too innovative can lead to market resistance, as consumers might initially struggle to understand or trust the new category.
  3. Potential for Competition: Once the category gains recognition, larger players with more resources might enter, posing significant competition.

Why Might a Startup Pursue Category Creation?

  1. First-mover Advantage: By being the first in a new category, startups can dominate market share and set industry standards.
  2. Premium Pricing: With little to no direct competition initially, there's potential for higher margins.
  3. Brand Recognition: Category creators often enjoy lasting brand recognition, even when competitors eventually emerge.

Strategies for Successful Category Creation

  1. Clear Messaging: It's essential to have a consistent and clear message about what the new category represents.
  2. Education & Advocacy: Similar to market education, there's a need to educate potential customers, stakeholders, and even the media about the new category.
  3. Community Building: Engaging early adopters, creating a community around the product, and turning them into advocates can catalyze category growth.
  4. Continuous Innovation: To maintain leadership in the category, continuous innovation and responsiveness to market feedback are crucial.


Category creation is an audacious move, requiring vision, persistence, and adaptability.

While it presents considerable challenges, especially for startups with limited resources, the rewards for successfully creating and leading a new market category can be substantial.

It's a path to not just market leadership, but potentially, market dominance—a market created by you.

Remember, while /"educating the market" focuses on making the market understand a product's value, "category creation" aims to introduce and lead an entirely new market space.

The latter is inherently riskier but can lead to unprecedented rewards if executed well.

Aug 2023
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