After reading The Milo Criterion, I was reminded of a thought I had a while ago:
it’s one thing to say “oh, that soup i just made from some random ingredients turned out really well.”. it’s another thing to throw up the recipe on your blog and let people put it together themselves. it’s yet another thing, though, for the entrepreneur to turn that into a can of soup that millions of people can buy for $0.99 as just another option in the soup aisle.
After I wrote that, I had a feeling that there was something odd about my use of the word ‘entrepreneur’ there. I think it’s that the average entrepreneur wants to think that their product is so radical that it wouldn’t fit in the soup aisle. It has to be in an end-cap display with a space cleared out around it so that people fainting from joy won’t hit their heads on shelves.
Maybe your thing is so radical it can’t rightly be called soup any more. But there’s quite a bit of marketing power in being on the shelf next to the soup, such that a customer in the soup aisle can use existing decision processes to decide on your product. If it really is a significant departure from soup, customers will tell you (and others) that, and they’ll work with you to define a new category. That’s probably a lot easier than trying to define that category ahead of time and then drag people there with you.