You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Why Even Startups Need to Find New Markets for Established Products Companies work so hard to develop a loyal customer base they often overlook how tweaking marketing strategy could develop an entirely new segment.

By Zeynep Ilgaz

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Finding customers is a long and expensive process for startups, especially if they have little or no brand recognition. Once they do develop a customer base, the last thing they want is to lose it after one sale.

That's why it's so important to prioritize future-minded strategy over short-term opportunism -- even (or perhaps especially) during your startup's growth phase. It sounds simple, but after running a business all these years, I still struggle with this.

Focus on finding secondary markets.

Exploring secondary markets for your product is a good way to firm up your long-term outlook. On top of that, once you expand, you're afforded the luxury of an additional customer base to fall back on if you're ever struggling with your primary market.

Every product has an inevitable life cycle: starting slow, accelerating, reaching a peak, slowing back down and then sometimes diminishing or disappearing altogether. This is why the most successful companies in the world are constantly coming out with retargeted second-generation products and looking to create new cycles with new demographics.

Finding a secondary market isn't as difficult as you'd think. It can be as simple as adjusting your packaging.

Kellogg's, for example, has mastered the art of selling nearly identical products to different markets. Although many of its cereals are quite similar in taste and appearance, the packaging sets them apart. It'll either target kids with cartoon mascots or aim for adults by flaunting nutritional info.

Along the same lines, my company unlocked a brand-new market once we realized our health-testing devices could also be used on animals. With simple tweaks in packaging and marketing, we're now a fixture in the human and animal health technology industries.

Related: 8 Strategies for Expanding a Niche Product Into New Markets

How to get started.

It's never too early to focus on creating new products or repackaging existing products for new markets. Here are five steps for doing so:

1. Plan ahead. While you're developing your startup, you should already be thinking about a secondary market. Position your product from the get-go knowing that you'll want to expand, and build this plan into your overall launch strategy.

2. Define your secondary market. A secondary market can be as specific as an age group or as broad as an entirely new vertical. Use your company's mission and goals, as well as market research, to drive just how vast your expansion is.

3. Walk before running. Make a timeline of your launch strategy, and take things incrementally. Don't try to tackle everything at once; wait until you've successfully penetrated your primary market before diving into the secondary one.

4. Refine your marketing. Be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy once your secondary market opens up, but don't do anything too drastic; you still need to appeal to your primary market. Funding a new strategy can be hard for many businesses with limited or no marketing staff, but the extra revenue that a secondary market brings in can reduce the impact of higher costs.

5. Stay focused. Always remember that your primary market is the core of your business. Never take it for granted, and never neglect it. Your secondary market is just that -- secondary. The best way to avoid neglecting your core market is by constantly listening to customers, using metrics, tracking sales and incorporating feedback into improvement. Consider having separate teams dedicated to each market that are both searching for ways to improve your product, customer service and marketing techniques.

As an entrepreneur, I know you're faced with so many distractions every day. But if you can resist the temptation of short-term gains and focus on tapping into new markets, you'll find yourself enjoying success long into the future.

Related: How to Market More Effectively by Following Your Customer's Trail

Zeynep Ilgaz

Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and President of Confirm Biosciences and TestCountry

Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband immigrated to the United States with two suitcases and the drive to dive into entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences and TestCountry in San Diego. Ilgaz serves as president of both. Confirm BioSciences offers service-oriented drug-testing technologies.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Personal Finance

How to Get a Lifetime of Investing Experience in Only One Year

Plus, how day traders can learn a lesson from pilots.


94% of Customers Say a Bad Review Made Them Avoid Buying From a Brand. Try These 4 Techniques to Protect Your Brand Reputation.

Maintaining a good reputation is key for any business today. With so many people's lives and shopping happening online, what is said about a company on the internet can greatly influence its success.


Save on Business Travel with Matt's Flight's Premium, Only $80 for Life

This premium plan features customized flight deal alerts and one-on-one planning with Matt himself.

Science & Technology

Here's One Reason Urban Transportation Won't Look the Same in a Decade

Micro-EVs may very well be the future of city driving. Here's why, and how investors can get ahead of it.


I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.