Aug 9, 2019 in Economics

Clare O'Connor's article on Forbes, which is titled How Spanx Became a Billion-Dollar Business without Advertising presents the epitome of all business models that every entrepreneur envies. To start with, it has often been said that it is easier to come up with a business idea than to come up with an executable business idea and much worse, to even execute that idea. The execution of the business idea, in this case, details all the how to start, operate, and sustain the business. It also involves how to get the customers and even how the products will get to them. The presented article provides the simplest but the most effective business model that an entrepreneur can ever have. This paper presents the analysis of the presented article based on the seven domains of attractive opportunities by J. Mullins, the POCD framework of W. Sahlman, the business model canvas and the testing method presented during the module.

 

According to J. Mullins, the seven domains of attractive opportunities are included in two both categories that include the team domains and the industry domains. Under the team domains, there are three elements, which include the ability to execute the critical success factors, the connectedness up and down the value chain, and the mission, aspirations, and propensity to the risk of the enterprise. From the team domains, the article indicates that Spanx has a clear mission and specific aspirations from the onset with this focus being on the provision of nice-looking and comfortable undergarments for women. Sara Blakely understood the mission, and she was ready to actualize it and through tenacious engagement, she ventured into the market. Secondly, Sara Blakely had the ability to execute on all the critical success factors. Being a lady, Sara clearly understood the need to have comfortable undergarments. It is why she managed to produce and sell the powerful undergarments that her company produces. Additionally, she understood the market that she was targeting hence the success with her startup. Lastly from the team domains, Sara Blakely understood the power of connectedness up and down the value chain. She sought to advance this connectedness by producing products of unrivaled quality that made all her clients feel happy, powerful, and comfortable and when that was achieved, Sara Blakely trusted the power of the word of mouth to keep her products moving.

 

Focusing on the outer level domains, there are micro-level domains which include the sector benefits and attractiveness and the sustainable advantage. On the sector market benefits and attractiveness Spanx understood the market in which she was venturing, the needs of her customers, and the way to fulfil those needs. She also understood how to create a sustainable business model, and this involves continuously reinventing her products to meet the changing needs of the markets while at the same time ensuring that her brand remains authentic. This also applies to the macro level domains that entail the industry and market attractiveness. Sara Blakely understood the complexities of the market and the industry in which she was venturing. Hers was just to focus on differentiating her products from those of the competitors and other than producing seamless products, she packaged the in bright cartons and put words on the boxes that described exactly what the market was looking for. It is also the reason she replaced the dull beige packaging with bright red and pink packaging and products. 

 

The opportunity recognition at Spanx can also be viewed from the POCD framework as proposed by Sahlman. POCD stands for the people, the opportunity, the context, and the risk and reward. The people concept regards the men and women focused on starting a new venture and as Sahlman states, the people are the lifeblood of the business. In this particular case, Sara Blakely is the face of Spanx and Sara if Spanx as the article puts it. She is the superhuman that made the company a success but most importantly, she envisages and carries the vision and mission of Spanx. Secondly, there is the opportunity. It is the business itself and in the context of the case study in question, Spanx is the opportunity. Sara saw a gap in the undergarments industry, and she knew exactly how to fill that gap. She produced quality and powerful products that made her clients happy, and the clients spread the word of how good Spanx was hence creating and building it as a strong brand. The other face of the framework is the context that can be loosely interpreted as the business environment. The context focuses on factors such as the regulatory environment, competition, and demographic trends. In this particular case, Spanx understood the business context. Sara knew the competitors and the products that they provided. She sought to set herself apart by making products that sent a statement to her clients, and this is why she rose above the competitors even without advertising. One notable thing from the article is the fact that Sara Blakely read through the dailies and all magazines to get to understand the industry and what the customers wanted. She then picked words from the articles and used then on her products. Lastly, there is the risk and reward face of POCD. Under risk and reward, the entrepreneur identifies all the strengths and weaknesses of the opportunity and devises a control mechanism for anything that is likely to go wrong. At Spanx, the proprietor understood the market, made products that meet the needs of the market, and most importantly ensured that the use of the word of mouth was her way to success. Something particular about this model is that with the word of mouth the proprietor can identify and quickly apprehend all possible complaints from the clients. The following section presents the analysis of the opportunity based on the business model canvas.

 

The business model canvas presents an easy way of identifying the critical success factors of the business. To being with there are the key partners for Spanx. These include Hollywood stars, Brooke Shields, Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts, and Oprah Winfrey. The partners help to boost the marketing of the products made by Spanx. The key activities are the production and sale of undergarments. Key resources are the happy customers that make the company’s referral network. The value propositions include comfortable and nice-looking undergarments that do not protrude from other clothing. The key relationships include the relationships between Spanx and the invaluable customers that have made the enterprise a success. On the key channels, the company utilizes referrals and the word of mouth from satisfied customers. The customer segments include the famous women in the society that would freely talk about their bodies and feeling good. The customers also include girls in need of comfortable non-revealing undergarments and mothers who needed to feel good and their body to look good after getting a baby. The cost structure includes the costs of manufacturing and distributing the products. No advertising costs are required. Lastly, the revenue stream and model include the sales revenue from the sale of undergarments.

 

Lastly, there is the testing method presented in the study. Many entrepreneurs venture into the market without necessarily considering critical success factors and possible sources of failure. They venture into the market considering only what they think will sell and not what the customers probably want. It means than many entrepreneurs ignore the user experience and the demand that emanates from the user experience and this ultimately determines the success of failure of the business. At Spanx, Sara Blakely knew pretty well how to measure the user experience. It explains why she continuously uses referral as her one and only marketing tool. Referral marketing ensures that the customer markets the product only if it is satisfactory. The article notes the importance of advice shared among women especially when purchasing products as critical as undergarments. It is why she capitalized on her networks on campus and when she was certain that her products were of satisfactory quality and comfort, she started pursuing the higher goal of seeking affirmation from famous women in the society and this succeeded by her pursuit of affirmation form Oprah Winfrey. The fact that Oprah Winfrey affirmed the goodness in wearing Spanx products by putting Spanx on the list of her favorites helped Sara Blakely in measuring and testing the demand for her products. The point of success came in identifying the fact that her products met, satisfied, and outperformed the needs of the famous women in the market. These strategies can be employed in any enterprise and lead to a success story.

 

In conclusion, this paper presents the analysis of Spanx business model. The paper helps in identifying the success factors required in the creation of a successful business. To people who are focused on becoming successful entrepreneurs, this paper recommends that they conduct extensive and intensive studies on the markets they intend to serve. It helps in identification of the gaps and opportunities in the market. Secondly, the entrepreneurs must package the identified business opportunity into a business plan, which clearly identifies all the critical success factors. The entrepreneurs must then test the user experience to ensure that the product does not only meet the need but that it also creates a positive experience in the lives of the users. Lastly, the entrepreneurs must conduct tests on the market identifying the environmental factors and how they affect the enterprise.

 

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