Go for niche products, Sri Lanka’s Spa Ceylon tells small businesses
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan small businesses venturing overseas should look at gaps in the market, identify unfulfilled consumer needs in niche areas and use branding to differentiate themselves from competition, Shalin Balasuriya, director and co-founder of Spa Ceylon, said.
“You have to have that unique identify – that’s the need for creating good brands, which means you are more resilient and can ask for premiums,” Balasuriya told an economic forum in Colombo organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Spa Ceylon, known for its luxury ayurveda spas, now operates in 14 countries. Apart from its spas it is also a producer and retail chain operator.
Balasuriya said small and medium enterprises should look at not only technology but further afield as there were a lot of other opportunities.
“You need to identify them and make sense to the global consumer. You need to focus on branding so you can go out and stand out and be unique. Only when we become unique we can start demanding premiums and become more robust,” he said.
“We started as an SME, took a product, ayurveda, which has a history of 5,000 years, we tweeked it, made it relevant to our audience, and one that could be exported and managed to make it a successful export.”
The key thing for SMEs is to start looking at brands and looking in a global sense.
“What we did was, at the design stage itself we looked at niches we were going to enter into –as an SME going out you have to look at niche markets,” Balasiriya said.
“Then you can control marketing spends and then penetrate and expand. It’s a really great way to get into foreign markets.”
Small businesses venturing out into new markets for the first time should initially identify market gaps or unfulfilled consumer needs and then position their product or service to highlight its uniqueness or different features.
Small business should also be ready for “constant innovation”, Balasuriya said.
“Most things that can be branded as unique can be replicated fast.”
(COLOMBO, 17 September, 2018)