Business Strategy

Second to Market Strategy

Businesses that are first to market often lose their lead. Being second to market can still be a winning business strategy if you play your cards right.

So your competitor beat you to market. Big deal.

Being second to market isn't the worst thing in the world. In fact, sometimes second to market strategies are even more effective than rushing to get your products on the market before everyone else.

Conventional wisdom says that the business who is the first to bring a new technology to the marketplace has a significant advantage over the competition. But there are plenty of companies who dominated their industry by allowing others to blaze a trail in the marketplace. So how did they do it?

Well, it turns out that in many industries, a late-to-market strategy can actually be leveraged as an advantage. The businesses who have done it successfully have learned how to create market disruptions exploiting the mistakes of early market entrants. Although this is especially true with technological products, there are a lot of other industries in which a second to market strategy can also be effective. If your industry is one of them, here are some of the characteristics your strategy should emphasize.


Late market entries have a significant advantage over early entrant competitors because they have the advantage of hindsight. It's not unusual for first to market products to contain kinks and bugs that need to be worked out. Even though these kinks can be corrected in subsequent product offerings, consumers may find it difficult to shake their initial frustration with the product or brand. Second to market producers can take advantage of this by offering a consumer-friendly design from Day One, creating the impression that their product and company are superior to their first to market peers.

Ease of Use

Making sure your product does what it claims to do is one thing. But taking the extra step to provide consumers with features that enhance usability can position your company as a preferred alternative to products that already enjoy a foothold in the marketplace. Remember: You have the advantage of field testing your competitors' products before you enter the market. They didn't have that advantage, so any cost-efficient means you can employ to increase your product's ease of use gives you an instant benefit.


Presumably, your competitor has already done the heavy lifting by marketing a new product concept to the buying public. Although your marketing strategy can reinforce the product concept, it should largely emphasize the features that differentiate your product from existing market offerings. An effective marketing campaign not only supports the appealing elements of first to market products, but also highlights your competitor's shortcomings by focusing on your product's improvements.


Once you have created a strategy to convince consumers that your product is better than early market entrants' products, the next step is to create a far-reaching distribution network. If you fail to create a distribution network that is at least comparable to the competition's, consumers may begin to question your ability to deliver a better product.

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