Specialty vs Generality Business Model (Part One)

12 mins read
Specialization vs Generalization
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Venturing into any business requires a lot of thinking and prioritizing. Many businesses have filed for bankruptcy,and more have have given their owners a name on the list of Forbes’ billionaires. The companies that failed to invent and revolutionize had to deal with being merged with other companies or being shut down as a result of lack of funds or accumulated debts. The dominant factor of it all is placing SPECIALITY over  GENERALITY and vice versa.

Speciality in business is letting one’s passion,skill or and acquisition (in any form e.g achieving positive knowledge from online classes, success in previous businesses, training from those who have invested in businesses based on area of expertise,and so on) overshadow the opportunity of selection,variety and diverseness. It can also be described as addressing a specific issue without wanting to be driven by the prospects of profiting from thinking “outside the box”.

Generality in business is not being motivated and perspired by passion or skill to variousness or diversity; it is striving to have the right thing done as a result of work input,which has a beneficial result. In layman terms,it is being involved in various endeavors in order to get profit.

These two factors have one major difference: NICHE,which can be branches or expantiated as NICHE MARKETING. According to the English dictionary, a niche is any position of opportunity for which one is well suited,such as a particular market in business. It also portrayed niche marketing as the finding and exploitation of a niche market (a relatively small and specialist,yet profitable, market).

Business owners tend to niche down based on their personality, area of strength,and trend. It has led to the downcast rather than uplift of an enterprise. Though niching makes it a lot easier to concentrate on certain things (which is beneficial in the sense that it makes the business better and more efficient at that thing) and be known for being exceptional at it but it dims creativity and reduces suppleness or pliability. 

A personal branding coach, Chijoke Otikpa, highlighted the benefits of picking a niche as:

  • It gives more time to work up to becoming highly advanced in that field
  • The owner(s) get a specialist figure
  • Ease of identity

He also made prominent the bad side of picking a niche:

  • The owner(s) get bored and less creative 
  • It gives less room for exploration and experimentation
  • It makes ones brand flexible
  • Picking a niche can open one up to getting FLUSHED AWAY in the flood of endless competitions.

Now that the concept of niching has been explained, what businesses serve as examples to the bad side of niching?:

1. Blockbuster

The home movie and video game rental service were launched in 1985. At the apex of the company’s success, it employed over 84 thousand people worldwide and had over 9 thousand stores as well. The people who ran the company were foresighted enough to move from VHS to DVD but unfortunately could not evolve to digital change. Sometime in the year 2000, the founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings, approached Blockbuster, offering to sell the company to them for 50 million dollars and to be the handler of the company online while Blockbuster handles the hardware part. The CEO, John Antioco, wasn’t interested because he thought it was a niched business( which is quite funny as their business was the perfect definition of niched). Netflix now has hundreds of millions of subscribers and viewers as they not only own their personal app and television station, but they also are associated with the tech company SONY. It filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

2. Kodak

Kodak was a company launched in 1888 by George Eastman. It started out as an analog photography company. Steve Sasson, an engineer working for Kodak, invented the digital camera in 1975. It was a technology company behind the advent of digital photography. Even though it was filmless, it was an epic fail because the makers didn’t flow with the digital revolution; Rather, they were obsessed with their success that came most especially from acquiring Ofoto( a photo-sharing site), thinking it would coax more people to print digital photos. The former vice president of the company, Don Strickland, said that it was as a result of their inability to get it launched or sold because of fear of its effect in the film market.


NOKIA is a multinational corporation found on May 12, 1865, in Finland as a single paper mill operation. In 1967, NOKIA corporation which specializes in computer and mobile phone production. Software-wise, they were stagnant; this was the beginning of the downfall of NOKIA. The launch of the iPhone in 2007 made an epic change in the communication system. It blew the minds of people and became the trend many wanted to be a part of. It was in 2008 that NOKIA decided to compete with Android, but as we all know, it still isn’t as successful as other mobile phone brands. The company was later sold to Microsoft in 2014 and has been operating under them ever since.

4. Borders

Borders was a book and music retailer store opened in 1971. They failed to adapt to new technology and embrace innovation on time. Amazon Kindle came out in 2007, Barnes and Noble’s Nook in 2009, and Apple’s iPad in 2010 but when Border’s Kodo came out, it was late as people had committed to online book stores.

Due to their inability to strategize properly. In 2011, they file for bankruptcy which was initially a Chapter 11 case but as a result of not being able to find a buyer that the creditors were in favour of, it liquidated its remaining retail outlets, leaving the remaining stores closes in September 2011, which converted the case to chapter 7.

Barnes and Noble later acquired their trade marks and customer list.

5. Abercrombie and Fitch

This company actually is the most intriguing. It tried to niche out and succeeded at it but at a particular point, the dogmatic mind of one of its CEOs created a downfall that caused them a lot. It was initially founded by Abercombie Co.in 1892 as an outdoor retailer that sold equipment for fishing and hunting. Ezra Fitch, a lawyer, later purchased a large part of the company and was named a co-founder in 1904, which led to the change of the company name to Abercrombie and Fitch. David Abercombie left in 1910 and then the company opened a pare departmental store that sold men’s and women’s clothes, and a school for golf and shooting. The business expanded to mailing orders to thousands of its customers. Despite the progress of their business, they filed for bankruptcy in 1977 and was acquired by Oshman’s Sporting Goods and later by Limited Brand in 1985.

Mike Jeffries became the CEO in the 1990s and focused on connecting with the youths. Unfortunately, Jeffries took the business to not only great heights but epic scandals as well. Mike made campaigns with provocative images and nearly naked women. A&F was then sued in the early 2000s for discrimination. It also received backlash from Asian Africans, as well as, Asian Americans for images on T-shirts that indicated some stereotypic things about them.

The company was sued again in 2012 by the former pilot of the private jet he took. He requested the staff to display odd behavior like wearing silver gloves when setting the table and black gloves when cleaning kitchen wear, wearing and behaving in a certain matter to please Jeffries.

In 2013, a post from seven years prior resurfaced which is the biggest scandal of the company to date. He stated “Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people. And we wanted to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone else.” Sales since then flunked for months, one of the reasons why Jeffries resigned in 2014.

The new management in 2015 tried to rescue it by removing the shirtless male greeters at the entrance of the stores, changing the appearance policy of salespeople, removing the dim lights and loud music concept of the internal parts of the store and replacing them with bright lights, thus making them looked more like a clothing store and less of a strip club. They also launched a new line of clothes that centered on older people. 

When Fran Howitz, the man who merged the company with another one in 2014 became CEO, his upgrades took the store to greater heights

A&F is planning on shutting down major stores in major cities due to fluctuations in business stability. It has temporarily been closed to the public due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus virus. It is surprising that it even had hoped of survival despite the scandals

Companies like MySpace, Napster, Netscape, GM, AOL, Motorola, Toys”R”us, Tower Records, and the likes are either liquidated, merged with other companies, or moving at a really slow pace in the business industry. Does this make all niched businesses unfit for stability in the market?

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Precious Oluwadara. An imaginative writer, content creater with Humility, Justice, Honesty and Peace as her core values. A lover of research and music; a tackler and survivor of astonishing challenges.

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