Discovering New Categories

Have you ever walked into a Foot Locker outlet and asked the sales associate for a pair of vegetarian shoes? Neither have I. But did you know vegetarian shoes is the fastest growing category on zappos.com?

zappos.jpg

So, why didn’t Foot Locker this of this category first? After all they are a profit driven company.

The truth is that Foot Locker never knew people wanted vegetarian shoes and there was no way for them to find out. The reason this category works on zappos.com is because the incremental cost of creating a new category online is zero. For Foot Locker, on the other hand, adding this category would mean dedicating shelf-space on multiple retail locations to serve the 50-60 odd people who inquire about such products at each store. Online, these pockets of mild demand can be woven together to create a rather profitable category.

PS: I heard about this vegetarian category at a talk by Chris Anderson at Ad:Tech.

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