Special – a dirty word?

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Preparing the report on the products for customers with special needs (see page 28), I wondered why ‘special’ in relation to needs has become such an undesirable or a politically incorrect term in the electrical industry. Undeniably, there is a strong argument for designing all products well – around good ergonomics – so they facilitate cooking, washing and all other domestic chores instead of straining the products’ users in the process. Yet, there are many groups of customers in the modern society whose needs don’t fit into universal patterns. Therefore I don’t see the reason, apart from the financial one, why some products shouldn’t be made and marketed specially for them.
In the wide world of commerce, niche products which cater for the specialist needs of a group of consumers are often regarded as an opportunity with significant revenue potential (which also comes with customer loyalty). For a specialist provider this also means that the barriers to entry to these markets are higher and they don’t attract ‘me-too’ products and producers as fast as more ‘universal’ markets. History is full of examples of people who identified gaps in the market and became millionaires in the process of exploiting them.
In fact, I think that becoming a specialist provider for a niche consumer sector/s could be exactly what an electrical independent needs to stand out in the crowded retail market.
Anna Ryland, Editor
aryland@datateam.co.uk

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