New Market and Market Types

I recently began interviewing potential customers as part of the customer development methodology I am using for my startup adventure. As I interviewed these potential customers, It slowly dawned in me that I might be dealing with a new market. When starting a company, market type selection affects everything. It influences marketing, income projections, customers, sales channels, etc.

Let’s take a second to go over the different market types.

Market Types

Existing Market

This is pretty straight forward. An existing market is well-defined with existing customers as well as known competitors. It’s easy for potential customers to highlight the features that are must-have or explain the edge your product is trying to bring (e.g. better performance, new features).

Re-segmented Market

Sometimes entering an existing market isn’t possible due to various issues (e.g. monopolistic market, cost of entry), but it is possible to distinguish yourself by either offering something different like targeting a niche or by offering a drastically reduced cost. By doing this, you segment the market in a way that you position yourself as the market leader. This is a re-segmented market.

Clone Market

Clone markets are simple. It is the act of copying/transposing a known startup idea into another large market containing language/cultural barriers. Common example are Yandex and Baidu which are huge search engines in Russia and China respectively.

New Market

A new happens when you talk to customers and you hear “I have never considered this”, “There’s nothing else like what you are offering” or something along those lines. You also can’t find competitors or a comparable product. This is a new market. Some examples are the iPad and Ford with its model T.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

Apparently Not Henry Ford

New Markets are radically different

While the above quote might not have been uttered by Henry Ford after all, it still illustrates quite well why a new market is fundamentally different compared to the other market types. Because of this, they also have very unique challenges that are not shared by the other market types.

Customers and Growth

A new market has to be grown. This has significant consequences for income generation. While other market types have existing customers, new market have none and this means you might not see growth for a few years as you educate your customer base. This is partially where the concept of the “Death Valley” comes from.


For a marketing perspective, you have to shift from the standard marketing practice because, since there is no competition, you cannot compare yourself to an existing product or brand. You can’t sell new features as well because you have no competitors to compare them to. All you can do is sell your new market vision to potential customers.

Is this good or bad?

So it’s not clear if it’s good or bad, some people seem to think it is bad like Steve Blank who discusses it in this article. Peter Thiel seems to think it is good. It is possible to be in a situation where you can choose if you are in a re-segmented market or a new one, this is well explained in this other article by Steve Blank.

That said, sometimes, you can’t articulate your new product as a re-segmented market, but if you have the choice then you should spend a considerable amount of time thinking about it as it is one of the most important choices you will have to make.

Science and Pragmatism

Matt Perryman over at Myosynthesis has been running an incredibly interesting series (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV) that he completed this week. The series dwells on some of his views on skepticism, scientific thinking and reductionism in fitness circles. I felt like taking a stab at the topic myself.

Reliance on abstracts

The problem to me isn’t the fact that science is used as a tool, but rather the reverence for, and certainty given to, the findings of published research with no further context.

Matt Perryman

When I started getting into fitness and nutrition research, I found it very hard to digest abstracts as is. Yet they were, and still are, thrown around as a form of justification. I was lucky enough to stumble on Alan Aragon who took the time to dissect and digest some of the relevant literature and explain it simply. It eventually spawned AARR which I have subscribed to for a few years now.

Abstracts are meant as summaries only. You miss out on a lot of information if you consider them as is. You can miss fundamental issues with the research itself such poor methodology which can range from how you perform your tests to the population used (e.g. using athletes from research meant for the general population). Commonly, you can also run into conflict of interests especially in nutrition research where the supplement company are funding their own research.

Let us remember what science is about

I won’t say too much about this here as I’ve previously written about complexity, but it’s helpful to think of your body as more like the weather than a precision-engineered mechanical device.

Matt Perryman

The scientific method is meant to assess cause and effect in a controlled environment. While sports and nutrition research try with various degrees of success to do so, it is currently not an exact science at the same level physics or chemistry. That is why having context is critical because it is what allows you to judge the relevancy of the findings and ultimately their application.

A case for engineering

Engineering is the discipline, skill, and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes.


I am an engineer by trade and what made me passionate about it was that you are converting theoretical knowledge into something that can be applied in a very pragmatic way. While I wouldn’t say we need a “Fitness Engineering” discipline (We have biomedical after all). There is surprisingly little done to “translate” the increasing body of exercise, sports, nutrition and psychology research and applying them in a practical way. It also doesn’t seem to occur in people’s mind that this could (or maybe should) be done or this is possible.

It’s not impossible either. Arthur Jones was able to do it when he invented the modern exercise machine. However, there’s been little else since then and most of it has been gimmicks. One of the reasons I really liked the 4-hour body by Tim Ferris was that, regardless if you agreed with his conclusions or what he had done, it was the first real attempt I had seen to take nutrition and exercise research and develop it into a practical framework of use for everyone.

It is getting better

Regardless of these issues, there are more and more people who take an interest in all of this and that is good for us all. We need more people looking into the science and how to apply it.

That is how progress happens.

A Self-Motivation Primer

I have spent a lot of time over the last month studying exercise adherence research and other sports psychology topics. One of the more interesting topics I have come across has been self-motivation. Like a most of the core topics related to sports psychology, this one has implication in our daily lives beyond just sport and exercise. I plan on covering self-motivation in the context of exercise adherence in a future article.

Self-motivation is the ability to persevere without outside help.

Self-motivation is the ability to persevere without outside help and, what is really interesting, is that it is the only psychological construct I have found so far that is enduring and trait-like1. Other traits, such as personality type, introverted, extroverted and degrees of vigor, were evaluated in the context of exercise adherence, but only self-motivation was found to have a noticeable impact1,2. While a lot of this research was done around exercise, there seems to be link between self-motivation and other medical treatments3.

The other interesting element of self motivation is that you can easily evaluate1 how likely someone is to persevere in a new behavior or activity before they have even started it. For anyone that has to help others change their behavior (Counsellors, Dietitians, Trainers, etc.) this can be valuable in tailoring the amount of support and self-management assistance needed for their client in order for them to achieve the success they seek.

While the research I have read so far seems to point at the enduring nature of self-motivation1. Anecdotally, I seem to feel that self-motivation can evolve over time. This is because motivation is related to high self-efficacy4 according to social cognitive theory. While self-efficacy is generally evaluated on a per behavior basis (also known as task self-efficacy), an overall increase in self-efficacy in multiple behaviors could have a positive change on self-motivation. Due to lack of material on the subject, I can’t really expand on it further than that.

Regardless of this, the assessment of someones’ self-motivation should be an integral part of any behavioral intervention.

1 Dishman RK, Ickes W. 1981. Self-motivation and adherence to therapeutic exercise. J Behav Med 4:421-38. PubMed
2 Adherence to physical activity. Dishman, Rod K.; Buckworth, Janet Morgan, William P. (Ed), (1997). Physical activity and mental health.Series in health psychology and behavioral medicine., (pp. 63-80). Philadelphia, PA, US: Taylor & Francis, xv, 286 pp.
3 Baekeland, F., and Lundwall, L. (1975). Dropping out of treatment: A critical review. Psychol. Bull. 82: 738-783. PubMed
4 Bandura A. Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. New York: Freeman; 1997.