[tweetmeme]Many successful businesses made it, not by creating a unique product that never existed before. Instead, they reworked existing products, modified them to address the problems customers currently have, and eventually made them their own.
Take the shapewear company Spanx, which started as a footless hosiery company and has now grown into a $300 million business. The company succeeded, not by inventing pantyhoses, but by changing it based on what the market wants.
Spanx got its start when its founder, Sara Blakely, was frustrated with visible panty lines that shows under light colored pants, and stockings that precluded her from wearing open-toed sandal. She was looking for a body shaper that will give her legs and butt a controlled shape, but one that will allow her to wear sandals. Blakely wanted body shaping pantyhose that she could wear with pants and sandals.
Frustrated that no such product exist in the market, she cut her control-top pantyhose to remove the feet. The result was a primitive version of Spanx, but she saw that her idea provided a slimming effect on her hips and thighs, and allowed her to wear open-toe shoes.
Spanx continues to innovate while closely listening to what consumers want. Knowing that men also need shaping and slimming their bodies, the company created Spanx for Men, which now offer “physique improving” undershirts and underwears. Spanx has also created Bra-lellujah, which is designed to eliminate visible bra lines and camouflage back fat.
From the footless pantyhose, Spanx has now grown to offer slimming swimsuits, shapewear, and slimming apparel — all the while carefully listening to what customers need and want.