What Does a Category Designer Do? Invents the Future for Starters

Real World Example: When I first met Bart (founder of Saltbox Storage), it took me about 2 minutes to realize I was listening to a man who wanted to revolutionize the self-storage industry. He had solved ALL the problems inherent in the ecosystem, and re-invented how stuff is stored (place an order for pickup, and your stuff gets picked up… place an order for delivery, and your stuff gets dropped off). Everything not only made sense, but I had the privilege of providing the technology pieces; so not only did the business make sense, was disruptive, problem-solving, but because I wanted the technology to match, I was able to develop a (wireless) workflow system so that all their drivers could work from the same page. When a pick up or drop off order is placed, each driver is notified, and can “claim” the order, and once the order is filled, the driver completes the workflow and the order is sent to the customer for a review. This saves Saltbox thousands of dollars in gas and time. https://saltboxstorage.ca is now ready for franchise.

Now… generically… this is what a category designer does:

A category designer is responsible for creating and shaping new product or service categories within a specific industry. This role involves defining and positioning a new category in a way that differentiates it from existing categories and establishes its unique value in the market. Category designers are strategic thinkers who understand market trends, customer needs, and competitive landscapes to identify opportunities for innovation and growth.

Key Responsibilities of a Category Designer:

  1. Market Analysis: Category designers conduct thorough market research to identify gaps and unmet needs within the industry. They analyze customer behavior, preferences, and pain points to identify opportunities for creating new categories.
  2. Idea Generation: Based on market insights, category designers brainstorm and generate innovative ideas for new products or services that have the potential to disrupt the existing market landscape.
  3. Category Definition: Once an idea for a new category is identified, the category designer defines its scope, key features, and benefits. They establish the criteria that set it apart from existing categories.
  4. Differentiation and Positioning: Category designers strategically position the new category to differentiate it from competitors and make it appealing to the target audience. They create unique selling propositions (USPs) and messaging that highlight the category’s value proposition.
  5. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Category designers work closely with various teams within the organization, including marketing, product development, sales, and research, to ensure the successful launch and promotion of the new category.
  6. Industry Education: As category designers introduce a new concept to the market, they play a vital role in educating industry stakeholders, including customers, partners, and analysts, about the benefits and potential impact of the new category.
  7. Advocacy and Evangelism: Category designers champion the new category both internally and externally. They act as advocates for the category’s importance and potential to drive growth and disrupt the market.
  8. Monitoring and Iteration: After the launch of the new category, category designers continuously monitor its performance, gather feedback, and make iterative improvements to enhance its success and relevance in the market.

Examples of Category Design:

  • Apple’s iPod: Apple created a new category of portable media players with the iPod, revolutionizing how people listen to music on the go.
  • Tesla’s Electric Vehicles: Tesla’s electric vehicles redefined the automotive industry by introducing a new category of high-performance, long-range electric cars.
  • Airbnb’s Sharing Economy: Airbnb pioneered the sharing economy category, enabling individuals to rent out their properties and providing travelers with unique accommodation options.

In summary, a category designer plays a crucial role in identifying opportunities, conceptualizing new categories, and strategically positioning them to drive innovation, growth, and market disruption. By creating distinct and valuable categories, businesses can gain a competitive advantage and attract new customers with novel solutions that address emerging needs.