Brandy’s Market Matrix (part 1)

I’ve spent the last week wrestling with some ideas about how some market niches work. During one of my walks I realized that there was an underlying structure that was true between these different markets. After great amounts of thought, my take on a new matrix is below.

Like every other matrix ever created in business it vastly oversimplifies things, but that’s not where its value is anyway. Its value is in helping me think through a problem in such a way that understanding replaces confusion. I can now clearly communicate my thoughts about important things, where before I know I would have confused anybody who tried to listen. If (when?) I write my book, I will need to spend a lot more time polishing this, but it’s good enough for a blog post now.

So, the first axis is Steady vs. Fearless.

100 % Steady


Businesses that operate here blow the minds of the average computer professional. They are probably still running their financial transactions on mainframes. Below is an excerpt from The future of the mainframe:


COBOL remains the most widely deployed programming language in big business, accounting for 75% of all computer transactions – and it is not going to go away. COBOL is pervasive in the financial sector (accounting for 90% of all financial transactions), in defense, as well as within established manufacturing and insurance sectors. We estimate that there are over 200 billion lines of Cobol in production today, and this number continues to grow by between three and five percent a year.


100% Fearless

Police, Firefighters and bomb squads are the most obvious examples here. But plenty of businesses operate here, generally developing the next generation of software or something like that. Living here is a contradiction because it is more like living within a steady state of chaos. When I was working on Windows 98, I reformatted one of my computers every day and hoped that it would boot back up when the new version of the OS finished installing. (Not that this compares with being on the bomb squad!)

But I think the group that is pegged on this axis is in the software world is the open source Linux operating system developers. They work on OS’s that have never gone through a real test pass. Anything that catches their attention might get modified and they probably don’t even remember everything they’ve changed after a while. This boggles my mind.


The next axis is Embrace vs. Deny New Technologies.


100% Embrace New Technology

My husband is a total gadget and software freak. He embraces any and all new software and devices that he can get his hands on. If he needs a medical test that he hasn’t had before, he will be more intent on the mechanics of the test than over any possible health issues it might identify. He will seek out new software that does things like predict the amount of rain the wheat harvest is likely to get even though he has never been in a wheat field in his whole life. Even if these things melt down his PC he is happy about it. He will say things like “Yea, but it was cool while it lasted!”

He is generally running a beta version of the Windows Operating System. When I asked him what he was going to do now that Vista shipped, his eyes gleamed as he talked about all the new software products that are going to start coming out and how there was always Service Pack 1.


100% Deny New Technology

You may think that this is the Mainframe businesses again, but it isn’t. Although the rate of progress is slow to us PC people, mainframe people say that there is rapid progress taking place all over the place.

These are really the people that hate technology. By choice, they don’t have computers yet, or if they do they just check their email. They deny that there might be things coming out of the technology companies that might make their lives better. They deny that they need anything remotely related to technology. When their bank goes to an all ATM model, they change banks.


Let’s put these two ideas together.


The Matrix

The Left axis measures where we are on the steady (mainframe) versus fearless (Linux) scale. The bottom axis measures a person’s ability to embrace technology (gadget freaks) versus people who deny technology (non-computer owners).

People do not stay in the same squares throughout their lives, or even for different markets. For my cell phone I might be a Daredevil but for my car, a Pragmatist. When I’m doing office work, I like to do cool new things, but I’m not fearless enough to use anything but Word, so that makes me an Artisan. I can even be in two different squares at the same time, for sometimes my work forces me to be one way, but in at home I do things differently. This was especially true when I worked on Windows 98.

Right now I have about 25 different blogs/spaces on the Internet and I sign up for a new one every chance I get. I suspect that one day I will lock down into one system. At that time I will become a Pragmatist and not put much effort into looking at what the other blogging tools vendors are creating. But I still want the software company to be an Artisan for me. If the blogging software I choose doesn’t embrace enough new technology, I will move to a different tool. If that blogging software makes too many changes, and therefore has too many bugs, then I will move to a different tool.

I know this needs a lot more explanation, so I want to start with some non-marketing / technology examples.


The Family

Remember over simplification is a good thing here.

Daredevil The Teenager

If you don’t believe that teenagers are fearless then try riding in the same car when one of them is driving. They also naturally embrace new technology as they reach out and explore the world with great amounts of curiosity.

Adventurer The Toddler

The word “fear” does not exist in their vocabulary, the only problem is that their understanding of the how the world works denies a little thing we call reality.

Artisan The Dad

As the anchor, he keeps the world from spinning, but also is most likely to bring in some neat new family toy that will mildly hurt everybody.

Pragmatist The Mom

The foundation of the family. She will keep things running in ways that are both sane and smooth.



The Animal Kingdom

Remember over simplification is a good thing here.

Daredevil The Carnivore

There is a reason that the old expression “Difficult as herding cats” is true in so many circumstances. Carnivores are fearless because they are at the top of the food chain. One example of sustained fearlessness over time is the cat’s ability to fall and always land on its feet. How many falls must have happened over the millennia for this to develop?

Adventurer The Insect

Insects are unique in the fact that almost none of them have a concept of territory. The vast majority of them will go where ever life takes them. Not to say that they are all flighty. Nothing can stop an army of ants. They will go through, over and around anything that gets in their way.

Artisan The Omnivore

As a rule they are clever and persistent. If you think about the average bear, the bad news is that it isn’t unusual for bears to come into neighborhoods and open the “Bear Proof” containers. The good news is that even though they could kill just about anything that is sent against them, they almost always run away. Even if all that is threatening them is some puny human woman banging two pots together. On the other hand they are also smart enough to come back when the commotion dies down.

Pragmatist The Reptile

The Turtle

Old lady: “The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”
Scientist: “What is the tortoise standing on?”
Old Lady: “It is
turtles, turtles all the way down!”

Reptiles are cold blooded; this group has learned the value of doing things at the proper time and in the proper way and always at the proper pace. They are a fount of conservatism that can be counted upon. Their success is so great that all types of creatures’ brains have an area called the “lizard brain.”


The Automobile

Remember over simplification is a good thing here.

Daredevil Sports Car

Having the latest greatest car with the most gadgets and always from the current year’s selection is a high priority choice of this group. They want speed. They want excitement. Their car is has to be a thrill ride. You haven’t lived until you’ve been eating at an outdoor café when the Dodge Viper Club drives by.

Adventurer Convertible

Did you ever wonder why you saw so many Volkswagen Cabriolets and over so many years? That car was the siren’s song for the Adventurer group. It had the pep, good looks and fun to please this group, without the commitment of having to figure out what the best car actually was.

Artisan Anything Else

The artisan makes the tradeoffs based on a greater scope of criteria, but unlike our other quadrants, they want a little of everything. They want the peppiest car that people will think is cool that get’s great gas mileage and will allow them to take their dogs to the park.

Pragmatist Honda / Volvo

The pragmatist has very practical reasons for choosing the car they do. Reasons like gas mileage, safety and reliability.


I think it is with this automobile matrix that we can begin using it as a marketing tool. For example, the number of cars marketed towards the Artisan square is very large. Less represented right now is the cars marketed towards the adventurer square. As they have shown in the past to be an excellent long term market, trying to find a car to meet their needs makes good business sense. Another way the matrix can be used is to design different “Upgrade Packages” that would configure the car to meet the more specific needs of each square in the matrix.

So the next post will be on how this applies to the PC Operating System market and after that, the Spaces/Blogger market.




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