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Hagoromo — Positioning an expensive product in a commoditized environment

Chalk is a highly commoditized product. The industry is saturated. There's no first mover advantage.

But have you heard of Hagoromo Chalks? If you aren't a mathematician, I bet you haven't.

The cult-like following

"A brand of chalk achieved cult status among mathematicians. Some call it the Rolls Royce of chalk, the Steinway of writing utensils. Some say it’s unbreakable, others say it leaves no dust behind." CNN

It became the math world's best kept secret.

Professors went wild over a cult chalk.

So much so, they started to hoard a lifetime supply of chalks. When rumour had it that the company would go out of business.

The price

It costs 0.5-0.9 cents per piece.

Competitors and cheaper alternatives cost $0.1-3 cents. Their target audience hates cheap chalk. Because the quality is nowhere near Hagoromo

Targeting the right persona

Mathematicians use a lot of chalk. They possibly use more than all other teachers combined. So, this persona's usage is quite high. Which means, they consume fast and don't churn fast.

So, how did this happen?

Positioning. And product. The perception is that Hagoromo chalk is the best chalk on the earth.

How do they tell this story? Through others.

Hagoromo went viral when Stanford professors took to Youtube to praise the chalk, calling it the Rolls Royce of chalks.

AKA word of mouth from an opinion leader.

Then, they hired Youtube channels to tell their story.

Their website? It's not fancy at all.

It's just simple copy. Light humor. You don't need dozens of testimonials if one speaks volumes. Have history? Let it shine.

The bottom line

"Create a cult. And let the cult to do the marketing for you. The people in suits call it it branding."

Some other examples

A few that I can think of:

  • Liquid Death — They sell water, possibly at a higher price.

  • Oatly — The sell oat milk. Highly commoditized industry. Oatly is also the most expensive solution.

  • Hexclad Pans — Same marketing as Hagoromo chalks but for pans


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