Can You Change who you are?
Here is a question that often comes up, say you have found your niche but you decided you want to head a different direction, how difficult is it to transition?
The basic answer to this question is that yes you can change but you have to do it very delicately so that you do not alienate your existing market while trying to attract new customers.
Lets take a look at two examples of companies who are big but did not do a good job of transitioning.
The first is Nordstrom. Nordstrom is best know for its customer service. You will pay more to shop their but people do it for its great service. Its product line could best be described as mainstream, nothing fancy but quality product. However a few years ago corporate decided that it wanted to attract younger hipper people into the store. It changed its product lines and alienated its biggest customers. The result was that sales went through the floor and the Nordstrom family replaced some of the big decision makers.
Even the mighty Wal-Mart has failed in an attempt to change their niche. Over the last couple of years they have tried to get away from the low prices and start bringing in more main stream products. They changed their clothing lines and made other changes in attempt to get more dollars. The results speak for themselves. Wal-Mart had bad quarters especially by Wal-Mart standards, the decision makers were fired and Wal-Mart is going back to focusing on low prices.
So how do you transition?
First of all, make it a slow and steady process. Do not change everything at once but do it over a period of time. You may want to bring in a few items at a time and see how your existing customer base reacts to them.
It is very difficult to change your niche but it can be done. What you cannot do is suddenly change everything and upset your existing customers. Do it slowly and make sure that your existing customers know that your not trying to get rid of them, your just adding products to better their shopping experience.