Renee and Don Marton published an article on the Huffington Post on March 4th, entitled "Three Secret Weapons for Entrepreneurs". In reading it, I couldn't help but mentally evaluate how well ActivSkin Legwear models these weapons in their business model. The three weapons listed were: ...
Finding Underserved Niche
ActivSkin's underserved market is men who suffer from poor leg circulation--cramps, achy/tired legs, feeling of 'heaviness'. Although men are as likely as women to suffer from these complaints, there has not been a product analogous to support pantyhose (thus far) available to men. Yet, wearing support hosiery has a beneficial effect on this condition, and can prevent it from getting worse, too. Because of the nearly insurmountable association of sheer legwear and tights with women's wear, and the fact that no male products have been widely marketed prior to ActivSkin, men have been forced to just 'suck it up' and not complain too much about how their legs feel. That is, until the pain or discomfort gets so bad their doctor prescribes medical-grade hosiery--which everyone finds to be too hot, too tight, too expensive and too uncomfortable.
Buck The Conventional Widsom
ActivSkin certainly bucks the Conventional Wisdom, which says, "tights/pantyhose are for women ONLY!" ActivSkin has been in business for 10 years now, and has grown nearly every year since its inception. That shows that the conventional wisdom is mistaken, when it comes to men wearing this sort of legwear for legitimate, practical reasons. The CW also says that men wouldn't wear pantyhose or tights--even if they're beneficial--out of fear of being negatively labeled by peers. However, despite an uphill battle in the beginning, we've perservered and those mistaken misconceptions are slowly, but surely, fading away. Some men are still tentative about this emerging trend, but every month more and more are willing to give it a try--and once they do, many decide their leg health overrides those misplaced fears... A few even venture out wearing them with shorts--like myself.
Spot a Trend and Pounce
Steve Katz, the founder of ActivSkin spotted a trend years ago when he discovered an online discussion board at the leggs.com website. Surprisingly, the bulk of discussion was being carried on by... men. Most notably, these men were focused on how they had discovered that women's support pantyhose provided definite, practical benefits to those with leg circulation problems. Others noted how they were also a good base layer beneath clothing for added warmth without the bulk of long johns. This discovery led him to circulate a survey exploring this hidden trend further, and ultimately led to the formation of ActivSkin (originally marketed under the brand name, Comfilon).
The company was a success from the beginning, finding enough customers for this underserved niche to maintain and grow the business for the past 10 years. ActivSkin still works to 'get over the hump', achieving breakout status, but believes it to be within reach. The current economic conditions in the U.S. and around the world continue to depress sales in all market sectors. However, ActivSkin has been able to hold its own despite being a small company. One additional entrepreneurial weapon that the Sarah Blakelys of the world need is perserverance--the ability to stay the course until the right combination of factors can launch you to the next level. And, that's what ActivSkin has demonstrated all along.