Christopher Columbus: First Mover and Failure
In honor of Columbus Day, it seems appropriate to revisit this Wall Street Journal piece from last year called, "The Columbus Effect in Business" by Gerard Tellis. In this article, Tellis discusses how Christopher Columbus died feeling dispossessed and embittered. According to Tellis the failing pioneer is not uncommon. In fact, he says,
“…historical analysis shows that pioneers mostly fail, have a lower market share and rarely lead their industries. Long-term market leaders seldom are pioneers. Rather, they are ones who appreciate the discoveries of pioneers, envision the mass market and exploit it profitably.”
Tellis claims that the pioneer if often too attached to their original idea, they focus on a small market and don’t innovate the initial product when the market demands.
Based on this knowledge, I have two easy pieces of advice for brands:
- Instead of fixating on being first, focus on being better.
- If you’re going to replicate something, don’t just copy it, improve it.