Filling a Niche

Kriega R35If you are a small company, you must be a niche player. It is impossible extremely implausible for most startups to introduce a product that can fill a need for a very wide market. This is because if a market is wide enough that one product can fill its needs, chances are good that someone else is already playing in that market. As a small company, you can’t afford to get into a price war with a established competitors – you must differentiate on a niche feature that someone cares about.

One company that has this figured out is Kriega. Kriega makes backpacks designed for motorcyclists. They are expensive, ranging from $100-$200 depending on model. Anyone can go to Wal-Mart and buy a $20 backpack, so why would anyone in their right mind spend so much? Kriega’s owners are motorcycle riders, and they personally experienced and heard from other riders about the frustrations with the general backpacks on the market:

  • “The straps flop around in the wind and slap you on the neck – it’s painful!”
  • “They are hard to get into and out of wearing my leather jacket.”
  • “The weight rests on my shoulder, making me fatigued – that’s dangerous!”
  • “There isn’t enough protective padding or places to put my gear!”
  • “I look like a dork with a backpack and leathers!”

As a motorcyclist who was frustrated with all of these same complaints, I sprung for a Kriega rucksack about 6 months ago when I bought my Triumph Daytona 675. I knew I needed something that would keep my laptop and other gear safe when commuting, and could also be used to haul small personal items on weekend rides through the Texas hill country. Thankfully, the pack performs as advertised. The most annoying problem with traditional backpacks on a motorcycle is the weight distribution. On a sportbike, you are leaned forward and are holding up your weight with your thighs and core muscles. Putting extra weight on your shoulders forces you to balances with your arms on the handlebars, which degrades your ability to maneuver the motorcycle. Kriega came up with a unique system for redistributing the weight to your chest and lower back. It has the added bonus of being easy to get into and out of when wearing a bulky, protective leather jacket. It has tons of pockets and areas to secure gear, and all the straps are smartly bound with tiny metal clips so not to smack you in the wind.

I love seeing success stories like this from small companies. Kriega recognized a need that could be fulfilled through some slight modifications to an existing product. They did it and are able to command a price that I would willingly accept because it meets my needs perfectly. In fact, I’m inventing a new category – Product of the Month (POTM) and will follow up each month with a product that I’m especially impressed by on the virtues of it filling a unique need.

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