In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone. The cell phone boasted a full touch screen, a slew of personalization options, and internet capabilities. These features were rare in the phone market before the iPhone, and having them all on one device was especially enticing.
Because of these innovative features, Apple built a reputation and loyal fan base in the first year of the iPhone's release, earning the company a 3% market share.
Today, Apple has a 50% market share in the mobile phone industry. This means that half of phone owners globally own an iPhone.
As a business, knowing your market share tells you how you stack up against competitors. Ultimately, Apple needed to know its market share back in 2007, and continue to innovate and grow, to become a leader in the market today.
When we talk about raising market share, we're talking about making informed marketing decisions that contribute to overall sales and customer retention. Here, let's explore what it means to increase market share, and how you can do that, today.
What does it mean to increase market share?
To increase market share means increasing the effort you put into sales as a business, and using new or additional strategies to help you get there.
Market share is the percent of total sales in an industry generated by a particular company.
Simply put, market share is calculated by taking the company’s sales over a certain period of time, and dividing it by the total sales of the industry over that same period.
Basically, market share is how much you make as a company in the industry, and how that stacks up against others. So, to increase your market share, you need to make more sales than your competitors to increase your share in the industry.
Which is, of course, much easier said than done. How does one go about increasing market share? Let's dive into that, next.
How to Increase Market Share
Find your niche and stick with it.
Understand your direct competitors.
Innovate as society does.
Engage with customers
Think about an acquisition.
Continue to delight customers.
1. Find your niche and stick with it.
Your company should have a few characteristics that set it apart from the competition. For example, Apple's logo and sleek design is seen on Apple's entire suite of products.
Having that distinguishing brand characteristic — such as the Apple logo — enables people to more easily identify your company's products across a line of similar-looking items. If your company is able to create a recognizable brand identity, while also producing higher-quality products or services than the competition (or products or services that serve a niche market), you'll have a better chance of finding a larger piece of market share to capture.
For instance, I don't know much about makeup, but I know a NARS blush when I see one because the design and logo of their products are so unique to the brand, and the quality of NARS products is undeniably good:
This strategy increases market share for a business that has found success with a previous launch. If a consumer sees your mark on a product, they will know what they're getting, which informs their purchase decision.
As a marketer, you also want to consider which marketing materials can help you increase market share. For instance, do you have a popular eBook or YouTube series? Continue to work with those avenues more frequently to expand the reach those products get.
2. Understand your direct competitors.
It's difficult to increase your market share without fully understanding your market – specifically, the competitors in your market and how you compare with them.
Using tools like Competitive Analysis Templates can help you understand your position in your own market more accurately. That way, you can determine with efforts are most worth pursuing and how to best go about increasing your market share.
3. Innovate as society does.
Sony's PlayStation owns 68% of the home console market share. Since 1994, Sony has been finding ways to innovate and update their video game consoles faster than their competition. These innovations are necessary to stay current in the industry and increase market share.
For reference, here is a 1994 PlayStation console:
While some design elements have stayed the same, such as the logo and base system design, upgrades have been applied to match the times.
Take, for instance, the controller. They're both similar, but while the PS4 controller is wireless, has a power button, and battery life, PS1 controllers don't. PS1 power buttons are large and can be found on the side of the console, whereas much smaller PS4 power buttons can be found on the controller and on the console itself.
This is because as more advancements have been made in the gaming industry, Sony has adapted accordingly. The company has a keen eye on what gamers want as years pass, earning them a high market share.
Customers know what they want to see, so one way businesses can increase their market share is by asking them.
A carefully crafted survey sent out to loyal customers with questions about design, updates, and features can help you visualize tangible ways to improve your product or service, and in turn, increase your market share.
You don't have to only use surveys, either. Engaging with customers on social media, such as in an Instagram story, works as well. Skincare company Glossier does this effectively:
Going to the source to ask what customers will spend their money on is a good campaign strategy for increasing market share. It's a low-cost way to conduct market research and learn more about your place in the industry based on consumer perception.
5. Think about an acquisition.
You can increase market share through the acquisition of a company that aligns well with your own products or services. This requires a bit of research, but will ultimately end up in potentially gaining a larger market share.
Companies usually acquire companies to gain a larger market share or expand their suite of products. For example, Microsoft owns LinkedIn and GitHub. While the former (LinkedIn) can lead to an increase in market share among social media revenue, the latter (GitHub) can lead to an increase in market share among Cloud OS revenue.
Acquiring a competitor involves choosing the right company — one that will be a positive addition to your suite of products or services.
6. Continue to delight customers.
Netflix is no stranger to creating loyal customers. The platform is constantly adding more original shows and tightening its algorithm to cater to its customers. This constant refining of the platform led to a 2014 report that Netflix had a 90% market share in the streaming service market.
Having such a large market share due to these updates has helped Netflix even as more streaming services have entered the market. Customers have found themselves not wanting to cancel their Netflix subscriptions because they've found such deep value in it.
In short, Netflix makes its customers happy. I know I'm certainly happy when I can turn on the Netflix app and see most of my favorites displayed without needing to scroll further.
Netflix positioned itself as a leader in the industry. Don't wait for customers to come to you for ideas — think ahead, not just of what they need, but what they'll want as customer buying experience changes overtime.
In 2007, Apple completely revolutionized mobile phones and tripled their market share in a year. 13 years later, Apple is still a leader in the mobile phone market because of the ways they constantly improve their product and create loyal customers.
By looking at your market share and finding ways to increase it, you'll find greater customer retention and a more stable position in your industry.
Originally published Feb 14, 2020 4:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2021