The 80/20 Rule and how brands focus

Pros know that there’s some counter-intuitive merchandising tricks that great brands do well when you really look hard. The 80:20 rule is one. It’s the reason Apple does not sell skateboards and the reason that McDonalds don’t do t-shirts. It’s also why Teemill doesn’t offer thousands of different items, and in this blog we look at the data to discover that differentiating into different styles might actually slow down your sales.

We do a lot of things at Teemill that on first glance can look like restrictions or limitations. In reality, we have a single focus when we think about where we’re taking the tech and it centres on making sure we maximise your chances of success. That sometimes means we design things to prevent the most common causes of failure.

If you’re wondering why we don’t sell more products like bags, accessories, phone cases and novelty items, it’s because we have learned that this isn’t the fastest path to success.

The 80:20 rule says that 80% of your revenue will come from just 20% of your product lines, and the remaining 80% of your product lines will only make up 20% of your sales. It’s based on solid business evidence. And many startups fail because they either don’t know about it, or don’t believe it is true – after all, if we make loads of different products, some of them will sell right?

Differentiating into loads of different product types distracts you from making your core product types well. Successful businesses tend to do only one or two things well and focus their time on getting sales.

Studies have shown that 95% of the sales through vlogging merch stores are simple t-shirts. Investing time in trainers, lanyards, phone cases, backpacks and caps – at best – will increase sales by 5%. At Teemill, you can’t get distracted by that because you can’t.

Within your collection, the 80 20 rule will still apply and you’ll probably find that most of of your revenue will come from just one or two t-shirt designs. We recommend spending the time you would have spent differentiating on figuring out why those designs are awesome and making more products like that, or freshening up your photography and merchandising to squeeze the extra performance out of what you’ve already got.

Make your best products look amazing with great photography and product descriptions, then focus purely on increasing your traffic and getting sales through PR & marketing. Already got some great designs? Ask yourself how you’re going to increase your traffic and sales. That’s the fastest way to make your Teemill a success.

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